, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 39-51
Date: 02 May 2007

Caterpillar’s Interactions with Piracicaba, Brazil: A Community-based Analysis of CSR

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This study examines how Caterpillar Brasil Limitada, located in the city of Piracicaba, Brazil, expanded its concept of social responsibility over a 30-year period. It first provides a contextual overview of Piracicaba within the agro-industrialized interior region of São Paulo State. It then traces the history of the firm from its initial installation in the city. While Caterpillar maintained a distant relationship with the Piracicaba community for many years, it later realized the importance of becoming involved in city development. The community-based effort led by Caterpillar to elaborate and carry out a sustainable development plan for the city is a notable example of how a firm can encourage civil participation and offer strategic planning know-how to civil-society organizations. Finally, the study analyses some of the problems Caterpillar encountered and stresses the importance of developing open democratic channels and continued civil participation in joint partnerships between business and civil society.

A revised version of this article will appear in Portuguese, in a forthcoming book by F. Bird F. and M. Griesse, Responsabilidades Sociais: Práticas de empresas Internacionais na América Latina, to be published by UNIMEP Press, Piracicaba, Brazil, in late 2006.
Margaret Griesse holds a Ph.D. in Education and International Developement from the University of Frankfurt. She is currently Coordinator of the Martha Watts Cultural Center at the Methodist University of Piracicaba, Brazil.
Research and interviews for this study were carried out between February 2003 and June 2004 in Piracicaba, São Paulo Brazil. During this time, I carried out nine formal interviews with Caterpillar employees and Piracicaba community leaders. I also attended various public meetings on Piracicaba 2010 and participated in several spontaneous discussions with community residents and Caterpillar employees concerning Piracicaba 2010. I have honored the request of some employees and residents who wish to remain anonymous.