Corporations and businesses have been a major influence on society since before the industrial revolution, but academic focus on corporate responsibilities is a recent phenomenon which focuses predominantly on globalised multi-national corporations of the late twentieth century. The purpose of this paper is to consider the evolution of the corporate responsibility and community involvement tracing the development of corporate behaviours in the UK from medieval guilds to the modern form of corporation seen at the end of the last century.
The analysis considers the institutional forces which have shaped responsible business behaviours in a context of changing power and influence.
Drawing on Weber's notion of the ideal-type, this paper demonstrates that many “modern” corporate social responsibility (CSR) concepts such as codes of conduct, stakeholder consultation, and corporate donations have considerable heritage.
This paper develops an important precedent by examining the evolution of CSR and other aspects of corporate engagement. It develops a long-term instrumental context for corporate donations, whilst revealing that practices such as employee volunteering are considerably more recent, and less institutionally developed.
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