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The politics of corporate social responsibility or: why Milton Friedman has been right all along

Marc Orlitzky (Business School, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

Annals in Social Responsibility

ISSN: 2056-3515

Article publication date: 8 June 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the debate and reorient research on corporate social responsibility (CSR), empirically documents the political-ideological biases inherent in CSR. It concludes with possible remedies to this problem.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach taken in this literature review is informed by the author’s viewpoint on the growing industry of social activists, who are pushing business toward the adoption of an ever-growing panoply of quasi-regulations commonly identified as CSR. The approach is complemented by a critique of stakeholder theory.

Findings

The literature review provides empirical support for Milton Friedman’s (1970) claim that the values underpinning CSR are driven by a socialist-collectivist agenda, which is inherently opposed to capitalist/libertarian values of free enterprise and individualism.

Practical implications

Without critical reflection on the leftwing ideology instantiated by CSR, the business community may unwittingly adopt and sustain values that undermine free markets.

Originality/value

Without critical reflection on the leftwing ideology instantiated by CSR, business and research communities may unwittingly promote values that, stealth-like, undermine individual liberty and the capitalist foundations of free markets.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author. The arguments and comments do not reflect the official editorial policy of Annals in Social Responsibility.

Citation

Orlitzky, M. (2015), "The politics of corporate social responsibility or: why Milton Friedman has been right all along", Annals in Social Responsibility, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 5-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/ASR-06-2015-0004

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited