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Corporate Social Responsibility and the Fetter of Profitability

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 1 November 2007




The purpose of the paper is to examine five themes arising from definitions of corporate social responsibility (CSR): responsibility to the community and society; promoting democracy and citizenship; reducing poverty and the inequality between rich and poor; employee rights and working conditions; ethical behaviour. The paper also aims to evaluate three important articles on CSR, and investigate conceptual value added, with reference to these five themes.


The paper uses a Hegelian dialectical method to analyse CSR. This method is used to evaluate Friedman's classic 1970 article, the 2004 Christian Aid Report, the 2006 Corporate Watch Report and the conceptual value added aspects of CSR.


The evidence suggests strongly that, irrespective of the subjective will of CEOs, corporate profitability acts as a fetter to authentic social responsibility.

Practical implications

As CSR tends to be reduced to a range of marketing techniques, of varying degrees of sophistication, the paper calls for a discussion on ways in which producers and distributors can become authentically responsible to the societies in which they operate.


An analysis of CSR that employs Hegelian dialectics provides a means of explaining the relevance of the contradictions inherent in contemporary corporate and consumer behaviour. A study of these contradictions helps us to understand the widely reported gulf between the theory and practice of CSR advocates. Such an understanding is likely to be of value to those academics, students and others seeking to theorise, and bring into being, authentic social responsibility.



Scott, S. (2007), "Corporate Social Responsibility and the Fetter of Profitability", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 31-39.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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