The questions posed for the national reporters for this International Seminar demonstrate the wide range of issues that can be included as part of an analysis of corporate social responsibility. Even limiting the discussion of corporate social responsibility to employment issues covers a broad scope, represented by the three general questions posed for this Seminar: (1) hiring policy; (2) personnel management policy; and social protection policy. Before entering this discussion of the three questions, though, it may be useful to step back to an even broader question of the meaning of the term, “corporate social responsibility” (CSR). The term, itself, carries an underlying assumption of the legitimacy of a particular economic system and its central actors; that is, corporations are central, legitimate, and functional actors in social relations within a capitalist economic structure. The concept of CSR does not question the existence of corporations and their role in maintaining a system of private ownership and control over capital. The fundamental goal of capitalism and corporations to maximize market control and profits remains intact. Policies favoring CSR, rather, seek to shape the conduct of corporations to increase socially responsible corporate practices, but do not challenge the legitimacy of corporate power. Such social responsibility may range from curbing human rights violations by corporations, such as violence against union organizers, to influencing corporations to provide decent wages to employees, to pressuring corporations to carry out business with out harming the environment. The recent attention to CSR may be understood as an expression of concern over the reduced effectiveness of individual nations to maintain the integrity of social welfare policy within current conditions of global power exercised by transnational corporations (TNC).
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