History‐of‐management‐thought about social responsibility

W. Randy Evans (Department of Management, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
Stephanie S. Pane Haden (Department of Marketing & Management, Texas A&M University – Commerce, Commerce, Texas, USA)
Russell W. Clayton (Department of Management & Accountancy, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina, USA)
Milorad M. Novicevic (Department of Management, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The aim of this paper is to examine the development of the social responsibility (SR) of business concept and related management philosophies through the history‐of‐management‐thought perspective.


The history‐of‐management‐thought approach to social responsibility (SR) is grounded in the paradigm of continuing progress exemplified by the contributions of great management thinkers (e.g. Fayol, Taylor, Follett, Barnard). A historical evolution of the SR concept is provided, together with tracing the development of stakeholder theory in its attempt to depict the relationship between stakeholder management and SR.


Three management philosophies (recognition of the external environment, a need for collaboration, and a need for a shared understanding) emerge from both classical and modern management thinkers. Recent conceptualizations have added depth by clarifying the meaning of social responsibility and in addition, detailing the nature of firm‐stakeholder relationships. Despite voluminous literature, achieving collaborative integration between firms and stakeholders in practice appears elusive.

Practical implications

These management philosophies can help organizations navigate the intertwined relationship between business and society. Business leaders need to consider the vital role of trust in building more collaborative relationships.


The unique contribution of this paper is to provide the first history‐of‐management‐thought perspective on the social responsibility of business by tracing changes in the conceptualization of this concept, including the related stakeholder paradigm, to their roots in the works of renowned management thinkers.



Randy Evans, W., Pane Haden, S., Clayton, R. and Novicevic, M. (2013), "History‐of‐management‐thought about social responsibility", Journal of Management History, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 8-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511341311286150

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