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What do we mean by corporate social responsibility?

Lance Moir (Lance Moir is a Senior Lecturer in Finance and Accounting at Cranfield School of Management. He has held a number of senior finance positions in industry. He was Group Treasurer and then Head of Corporate Finance and Planning at Storehouse plc from 1985 to 1990, Director of Corporate Finance at Bass plc from 1991 to 1994 and in 1996 he was appointed Group Finance Director of First Choice Holidays plc. He is a Fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers, where he has been an examiner for a number of years. He is the author of Managing Liquidity and his areas of research interest are corporate treasury management, corporate social performance, social accounting and the role of business in society.)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 1 June 2001



There have long been conflicting expectations of the nature of companies’ responsibilities to society. However, for those businesses that do undertake what might be termed “corporate social responsibility”, what is actually socially responsible behaviour as opposed to management of corporate image management or other activity aimed predominantly at business benefits? This article reviews definitions of corporate social responsibility from both practice and the literature and looks at theories to explain why such behaviour takes place. The literature has strong divides between normative or ethical actions and instrumental activities. The article concludes by posing the question of when instrumental activities become business activities rather than largely social responsibility.



Moir, L. (2001), "What do we mean by corporate social responsibility?", Corporate Governance, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 16-22.




Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited

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