In 2007, IBM launched the Corporate Service Corps (CSC), a global pro bono consulting program. Over the next ten years, the CSC had grown to be the largest corporate assistance program in the world, sending nearly 500 IBM employees each year to communities in emerging markets. By the time it completes its 10th anniversary in 2018, the CSC will have sent approximately 4,000 employees from over 60 countries to consult on over 1,300 projects in nearly 40 countries. The CSC’s goal was to provide a triple benefit: leadership training to the best IBMers, brand recognition for IBM in emerging markets, and improvements in the communities served by the host organizations. As the program entered its second decade, IBM was considering ways to increase the social impact of the projects the CSC undertook while preserving the program’s other aspects.
The CSC was created as IBM was aiming to become a more "globally-integrated company." Since its founding, IBM had had a global footprint. But as the company transformed itself from a hardware and software company to one that provided services and consulting, IBM was looking to further integrate its far-flung workforce and introduce its services in new markets. The Corporate Service Corps (CSC) was created as a tool to open IBMers' minds to the demands and constraints of working in a globalized world through direct interaction with geographically and functionally diverse teams, working in resource-constrained environments.
In its ten years of operation, the CSC had evolved considerably. In terms of social impact, IBM was working on ways to more effectively monitor the performance of its projects and considering adjustments to program design to improve their benefit to communities. Many program elements could be adjusted; from the number and choice of implementation partners, to the criteria based on which IBMers were selected for the program, the type, size, or sectoral approach of the organizations IBM chose to assist, the duration of deployment, to the activities performed in pre or post deployment, or the type of partnerships or networks that IBM pursued with the program.
However before any program changes, CSC’s management had to consider not only the depth and breadth of CSC's social benefits, but also the program’s other goals. It was a difficult balancing act to maintain, but one that CSC had to accomplish if the program was to be both effective and sustainable.
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Vero Bourg-Meyer, Elikplimi Komla Agbloyor, Raúl F. Montalvo Corzo, Jaan Elias, David Bach, and Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah, "IBM Corporate Service Corps," Global Network Case 101-17, March 31, 2017
- pro-bono consulting
- Peace Corps
- program design
- Women in Leadership
- Innovation & Design
- Leadership & Teamwork
- Metrics & Data
- Social Enterprise
- State & Society
This Global Network for Advanced Management case has been made possible by the generous support of the Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Fund for Values and Ethics in Management.