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Taking Action to Unlock Business Resources Into Communities using SSM



This session presents three system conceptual models that have been brought to action as a result of an SSM study with the Voluntary Action Fund (a Scottish grant-maker). VAF aim is to unlock and bring about more business resources into communities in Scotland. As part of the ‘finding out’ stage it became clear that VAF perceived the problem to be situated in a lack of connectivity and alignment between and within sectors to address the challenges being faced by communities, represented by CSOs. Resource mobilisation is a common issue across these organisations and has been identified by Midgeley and Ochoa-Arias (1999) as an area that community OR practitioners (CBOR) could support yet little research can be found. Although, in the business sustainability literature calls have been made for businesses to reconnect business goals with societal goals, going beyond CSR efforts (Porter and Kramer, 2011; Scagnelli and Cisi, 2014) and in creating joint value between business and CSOs (See Weaver et al., 2016). The ‘VAF Connect’ and Scotland’s ‘Responsible Business Forum’ (SRBF) models are outlined, identified by nine “Rich Picture” workshops with VAF Trustees and Staff, and CSOs; a survey of funded organisations and expert interviews to confirm the validity of findings. An evaluation of the SRBF, implemented in February 2016, is offered in terms of addressing the problem situations and the identified success criteria. Further systemic changes are suggested to ensure its sustainability, scalability and effective governance. A number of challenges and lessons learnt are suggested in terms of applying systems-based approaches to CBOR problems, particularly the issue of ‘resource mobilisation’. Also, to operationalise the concept of ‘shared space’ as an emerging paradigm for matching and aligning business and societal priorities, forging relationships and developing innovative business models for joint value creation.

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