The European Business Review


As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts hundreds of thousands of lives and the very fabric of society globally, corporate philanthropy is playing a significant role in helping to address some of the challenges and devastation left in its wake, particularly in Europe. While this was not universal – many corporations and related philanthropies were quick to react, others scrambled to find a way to contribute, and some stood still – those that had a well-defined view of their social compact were best positioned to act swiftly and purposefully.

Governments, corporations, nonprofits, philanthropies and all institutions have a social compact, whether they articulate it or not.

Social Compact and the Crisis of Trust

What is social compact and why are those with a clear vision of it better able to respond to crises? Social compact is an entity’s explicit or implicit agreement with society about the value it creates, and it encompasses concepts such as accountability, legitimacy, transparency, and public trust. Governments, corporations, nonprofits,

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About the Author
William S. Harvey is the Associate Dean (Research & Impact) and Professor of Management at University of Exeter Business School. Will conducts research, teaches and consults in the areas of reputation, leadership, talent management and migration. He