This paper aims to examine the definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as propagated by ISO 26000, the global comprehensive guidance standard for CSR, compare it to and position it vis-à-vis other contemporary interpretations of CSR and formulate a critique on the standard’s definition of CSR.
This paper aims to examine the definition of CSR as propagated by ISO 26000, the global comprehensive guidance standard for CSR, compare it to and position it vis-à-vis other contemporary interpretations of CSR and formulate a critique on the standard’s definition of CSR.
ISO 26000’s definition of CSR is ‘out of the ordinary ' when compared to instrumental CSR definitions that are currently dominant, as it propagates an explicit moral perspective on corporate responsibilities towards society. While it resembles aspects of earlier definitions of CSR, this paper argues that the standard, being the end result of a global stakeholder dialogue, tries to make a strong plea for the return of morality in the CSR debate. Also, it is concluded that the ISO 26000 definition of CSR has several shortcomings, especially on the subject of corporate governance, which are addressed.
While the main gist of this paper is of a theoretical nature, it may have implications for practice as well. For instance, it may inform critical examinations of corporate commitments to CSR through adopting ISO 26000, and may inform future revisions of the standard.
This paper is the first to examine the ISO 26000 definition of CSR in a structured and detailed way.
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