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CSR4U Best Practice: ARGE Consulting

In May 2007, a delegation of Irish SME representatives and County Enterprise Boards members went to Istanbul to learn
about CSR from ARGE Consulting.

Study Trip to ARGE Consulting,
Istanbul, Turkey
Monday 14th May 2007
Part of the CSR4U project of the Irish Exporters Association, Fingal County Council and the County and City Enterprise

Mr. Loman O‟Byrne, CEO, South Dublin Enterprise Board
Mr. Michael Hayden, Business Advisor, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Enterprise Board
Ms. Ger Lavin, Director, 3rdi Consulting
Mr. John Mullins, Director, Zahra Publishing
Mr. Tim Greenwood, Director, Cooks Academy
Mr. Quentin Scally, Amdex Systems
10 a.m, Monday 14th May
Delegation of participants from South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Enterprise Boards met with Dr.
Yilmaz Argüden, Chairman and Ms. Pinar Ilgaz, Managing Partner of ARGE Consulting at the company‟s offices in
Dr. Argüden delivered a presentation to the delegation. This was followed by a questions & answers session and lunch at
1.00 p.m. In the afternoon, the delegation met some of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) with whom ARGE
Consulting has formed partnerships. These organisations included a member of the Corporate Volunteers Association
(OSGD) Boyner Holding, Turkey‟s largest non-food retail operation and the Bosphorus University Alumni Association.

Overview of ARGE Consulting
ARGE Consulting was founded in 1991 to provide advisory services in the areas of business strategy development and
implementation, business excellence methodologies, evaluation and development of investment projects, institutional
and organisation development, and change management. The company currently employs approximately 15 people.
ARGE has expertise in industries such as telecommunications, energy, iron and steel, retailing, construction, banking
and insurance, FMCG, automotive, consumer durables and pharmaceuticals.
Since its establishment, ARGE has worked with a wide range of companies, many of which are leaders in their sector,
including Borusan, Arçelik, Beko, Nexus and Bilim. It is now one of the top three corporate consulting practices in
ARGE has grown to become a highly regarded practitioner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In 2002, ARGE was
awarded the "Shaping the Future" Award at the European Parliament for its CSR projects and its activities are taught as
a case study in universities. In 1998, Dr. Argüden founded the National Quality Movement in Turkey with the aim of
promoting effective management in private, public and civil society institutions throughout Europe.
ARGE Consulting has become the first Turkish company to sign the “Global Compact” among hundreds of companies
and non-governmental organizations all around the world.
Partnering with NGOs is a central pillar of ARGE‟s CSR agenda. As part of its social responsibility activities, ARGE
expects its employees to participate in NGO activities for one day in the week. It should be noted that the standard
working week at ARGE is six days. Nonetheless, it represents a commitment on behalf of the company to devote 16.6%
of its billable hours to non-revenue CSR activities.
Through their engagement, employees aim to improve the quality of management skills within the NGO organisations.
Employees have a large degree of freedom in choosing the organisations with whom they become involved and the
consulting work they carry out for these organisations. They are encouraged to take positions of leadership within these
organisations and many have been elected to very senior positions on the boards of theses NGOs. ARGE have
developed a training programme to advise NGO managers on a range of issues ranging from funding-raising and the
legal environment to the management of human resources.
ARGE has also developed a „methodology for participation of the corporate sector in NGO activities‟ and has promoted
this approach through the establishment of a Corporate Volunteers Association. Once it established close links with the
NGO organisations, ARGE initiated the Civil Society Management Certificate Program in collaboration with a leading
university and developed a National Award Program for Corporate Volunteerism.
The list of NGOs with whom ARGE partners is impressive. It includes the Turkish Quality Association (KalDer), The
Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), The Corporate Volunteers Association (CVA), The
Association of Personnel Management in Turkey (PERYÖN), The Educational Volunteers Foundation (TEGV) as well as
the Bosphorus University Alumni Association.
The Corporate Volunteers Association runs an “Adopt a School” initiative wherein ten students between the ages of 10-
15 from schools from disadvantaged are given after school tuition and are encouraged to compete in debating.
Importantly, ARGE rewards its staff for their participation in this project and considers their commitment to such activity
when conducting their annual performance review.
The benefits that ARGE derive from its CSR activities include:
  Higher motivation of staff with consequent productivity benefits.
  Development of the staff skills and experience
 Promotional and branding benefits that can be used in the firm‟s marketing activities
 Enhanced networking leading to still further marketing benefits
 The ability to operate on a six-day basis, though with a capacity reduced by one sixth at any one time due to staff
absences while volunteering

The lessons for Irish SMEs
The delegation of six organisations learned much from their participation in this best practice visit to ARGE Consulting.
There follows a summary of the principal areas that were identified by the delegation members as being of particularly
South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Enterprise Boards
These two Dublin-based Enterprise Boards form part of a network of 35 County and City Enterprise Boards in operation
across Ireland. Funded by the Irish Government, under the Dept. of Enterprise Trade and Employment, Enterprise
Boards provide financial and management development supports to local micro-enterprises (businesses than employ no
more than 10 staff).
Both South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Enterprise Boards actively promote the benefits of adopting appropriate
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities to their target market.

The Boards recognise that there are many ways for micro-enterprises to be become more socially responsible. Giving
time to their local community, providing employment opportunities to older employees and people with disabilities and
giving their staff members exposure to charitable projects are just a few of the examples of CSR activities which the
Boards promote.
From the Board‟s point of view, this visit underlined the importance of partnering with NGO associations in order to
spread the benefit of CSR practices through local communities. In April 2007, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown CEB invited a
local Volunteers Association to take part in an “Enterprise Day” showcase for aspiring entrepreneurs. In addition to this,
the Board is currently working with an organisation called “Children‟s Hope”, with a view to helping this organisation
create entrepreneurial links between disadvantaged school children in Ireland and children in Angola, China, Cyprus,
Grenada (West Indies), Kenya, Uganda, Philippines, New York and St. Vincents and the Grenadines.
For South Dublin County Enterprise Board, the key lesson of the trip has been that using the knowledge and skills of its
staff gained by fulfilling its remit and applying these to voluntary projects outside of that remit, in a manner similar to
ARGE, is probably the most effective way to implement CSR. The Board already participates in the national steering
group which manages the implementation of a government initiative to mainstream travelers into economic activity and
education. Both the CEO and Asst CEO have served on this committee. The Board has also offered its enterprise
development knowledge to support the work of South Dublin County Council in „mentoring‟ two disadvantaged townships
in Ethiopia (however, this offer has not yet been taken up). These are examples of „causes‟ outside of its direct remit but
one which benefits from the specific capabilities that arise from its core mission The Board will now re-assess its
capabilities and seek further opportunities to put the skill of all of it‟s staff to work targeted CSR projects in a more
concerted and way.

Mr. John Mullins (Zahra Publishing) – DLR CEB
John is Commercial Director of Zahra Publishing ( a niche publishing company in Dalkey, Co.
Dublin. He is a co-founder of the Zahra Foundation (, an Irish registered charity that supports
communities in Vietnam and South Africa. It is his foundation‟s philosophy to partner with not-for-profit organisations in
each country and monitor the distribution and application of money to carefully chosen projects. John gave the following
“Following our recent visit to Turkey to see how CSR is enacted in that country, I was so inspired by what I saw we have
done a full review of our operations here to examine how we can incorporate some of the work done in Istanbul here in
Ireland. I was most impressed by the concept of incorporating CSR into staff members‟ role and review – we are
currently looking at this for our staff.
The exposure to other cultures and work cultures is truly inspiring and worthwhile, so much so we will be interviewing
some of the people we meet in Istanbul for an article we will be writing in the next issue of „Aspire‟, our Business
magazine. Thanks again for this great opportunity.”
Mr. Tim Greenwood (Cooks Academy) – DLR CEB
Tim is a co-founder of Cooks Academy (, a cookery school located in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
His business has formed a partnership with Orbis Ireland, a non-profit humanitarian organisation dedicated to blindness
prevention and treatment in developing countries. He is looking for ways to integrate CSR practices into his small
business. Tim gave the following feedback:-
“I found the visit to Istanbul very informative. I was impressed with the staff from ARGE Consulting. They were highly
motivated people at the cutting edge of their profession.
Ireland, and its small business sector, has much to learn from the culture of „Corporate Social Responsibility‟ which we
witnessed. I have definite plans to implement in my business some of the principles outlined to us.”

Ms. Geraldine Lavin (3rdi IT Consulting) – SDEB
3rdi was formed in 2005 by Colm Ryan and Geraldine Lavin to provide Business Strategy and IT Solutions to developing
and growing organisations. They provide strategy development, business mentoring, research and training services as
well as general IT services and web development using the dotnetnuke open source web application framework.
“What impressed me most about ARGE is how the personal values of the founding director have permeated throughout
the entire organisation - ARGE doesn‟t view corporate social responsibility as a separate part or strategy of their
company; it is simply an integral part of how they do business. I found it really interesting to hear practical ways of how
we could develop CSR practices in our own business. The trip to ARGE has helped us to develop a greater
understanding of how CSR can apply to small as well as large companies and we look forward to further applying the
CSR principles introduced to us by ARGE and their associates.”

Mr. Quentin Scally (Amdex Systems) – SDEB
Amdex Systems are developers of the most advanced reservations systems technology currently available for the travel
and tourism markets. They provide a powerful suite of packaged software designed to deliver innovative solutions to their
“What struck me most was that the CSR work done by these Turkish companies and by its employees actually benefits
the company itself as well as the projects they work on. Amdex certainly has opportunities to take on CSR projects and
this visit will provide a new perspective on these opportunities”

Our delegation of six organisations found ARGE Consulting to be an excellent host company. Their senior management
possess extensive knowledge on how best to develop and implement CSR activities across local and national
Dr. Yilmaz Argüden is a highly respected individual within his field and it was clear to the delegation that his vision and
commitment to the principles of social entrepreneurship form the basis for ARGE‟s continued growth.
What the delegation learned is that for an organisation‟s CSR practices to take hold and become effective over a long
period of time, all levels of the organisation must buy into a shared culture from the outset. CSR will not work if it is
created as a stand-alone strategy or is shaped as some form of public relations sideshow to support purely profit-driven
ARGE‟s adopts a highly structured approach to each of its CSR activities. The company creates a „collaborative‟ vision,
puts a highly qualified professional team in place and then seeks out partnerships with NGOs to train their management.
What this process serves to do is to enable ARGE to spread the message of CSR by empowering its partner NGO to
deliver the programs themselves.
It is clear that Ireland, despite its economic transformation since the mid-1990s, has much ground to make up in the area
of Corporate Social Responsibility. The visit to ARGE has shown our delegation of micro-enterprises that it is possible for
a small business to integrate social entrepreneurship into their activities in a way that improves their bottom line and
benefits their local community.

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