Posted: 7 Feb 2012
Date Written: September 16, 2010
Public Architecture is a non-profit architecture company dedicated to creating social and professional change through design for the public good. Public has focused on three strategies to create change: 1) promoting the design community's commitment to pro bono work 2) inspiring action through creating design with a social mission and 3) disseminating knowledge created by socially relevant design throughout the profession. As a central actor and change agent in the profession, Public Architecture created The 1% program, a national network of architecture and design firms that have publicly pledged to donate 1% of their billable hours to the public good. However, the organization has been struggling to keep both The 1% program and its own design initiatives integrated and reinforcing each other in creating social and professional change. Should Public split into two organizations? Would keeping the diverse elements within Public Architecture together force the entire organization to the least common denominator or would it provide them with a flexible platform for creating social change? These questions had important implications for Public's growth strategy, their funding and resource allocation decisions.
Learning Objective: To examine how a firm can be socially innovative and still focus on its core capabilities, and discuss how a company struggles to integrate different strategies for creating social change.
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