A4.3 Implications of Societal Values and Social Constraints on an Organisation


Societal Values and Social Constraints are more fluid and may be harder to predict than other types of constraints. Societal Values is a term used to describe the collective values of a community.

In general terms, societal values are often related to customs or traditions and do evolve over time. However, a community is comprised of several individuals who may all have differing (perhaps even conflicting) values. It is this element that can make them hard to predict.

An organisation may be more likely to be constrained by certain societies that have a vested interest in their activities. This may be on a very local level, such as a community based in the same location as an organisation. If the organisation creates too much noise or dust, the locally community are likely to complain, which may cause the Local Authority to restrict activities, which is a constraint.

Society Constraints may also come from across the globe. An organisation may operate in a country with limited regard for environmental pollution, but their stakeholders do not. For example:

  • An internal organisation such as Greenpeace may publicise the negative activities.
  • Business customers may not import items unless there is evidence they were produced in an environmental acceptable manner (e.g. from a company that does not have a certified EMS).
  • The public may not purchase products that they believe do not conform to certain environmental standards (e.g. wood from a sustainable source).
  • Investors may not wish to invest in a company that is losing customers, losing public confidence and receiving bad publicity.


It is also true to say that societal values are influenced by the media. In the 1990s, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests was a hot topic that was regularly on the news and it became a societal value. Today, it is rarely mentioned. The use of palm oil is pushed by the Government as a solution to the fossil fuel crisis, without proper mention of the many negative issues surrounding this. The issue is not yet fully understood by the majority of society and therefore it is not yet a widespread societal value.