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Human rights and corporate social responsibility: Parallel processes and global opportunities for states, corporations, and NGOs

Michael Stohl (Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA)
Cynthia Stohl (Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 3 July 2010

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to explore how globalization processes have shaped the nature, scope, and time frame of considerations of social responsibility and the development of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) regime. The paper identifies three generations of human rights' values embedded within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and aims to argue that they inspire and influence contemporary discussions about, and practices of CSR.

Design/methodology/approach

Employing the emergence of the human rights regime as a paradigmatic case comparison, the interrelationships of states, non‐governmental organizations (NGOs), and corporations in the development of new conceptions and expectations of, and organizations for CSR were explored.

Findings

The paper finds strong parallels between the growth of the global human rights regime and the burgeoning international attention paid to issues of CSR and sustainability. Four critical stages are identified: the formal articulation of norms, the increasing role of NGOs, changing power dynamics between state, NGOs, and multinational corporations, and the reconfiguration of network density and diversity.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that attention to the communicative processes associated with the development of the international human rights regime provides important insights for the future development of a global CSR regime.

Originality/value

Through the introduction of the three generations of human rights discourse, communicative actions and pathways from which a global corporate social responsibility regime may emerge were articulated.

Keywords

Citation

Stohl, M. and Stohl, C. (2010), "Human rights and corporate social responsibility: Parallel processes and global opportunities for states, corporations, and NGOs", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 51-65. https://doi.org/10.1108/20408021011059223

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited