Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has gained global prominence in recent years. This is because businesses have seen the need to consider the interests of stakeholders not only to enhance their corporate image but also to live good neighbourly lives with the communities in which they operate. The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of engaging stakeholders and recommend multinational corporations not to take over the governance of countries in which they operate as a result of their financial muscle but to play complementary roles to help in the development of those countries. Although CSR is no longer new in Africa according to recent studies, it is suffering from identity crisis, as it has been used generally and severally to refer to different issues. This conceptual paper discusses the notion of CSR practice in Africa and the major issues and debates around it. It looks at the role of government and civil society organisations that are at the forefront playing watchdog and vigilante roles for the benefit of the society.
This is a conceptual paper.
The paper argues that business and society cannot exist without working together and that responsible business is key to sustainable development. It traces the roots of CSR and the emergence of the concept. It advises that what is required in Africa is for the media and civil society organizations to play watchdog and vigilante roles in ensuring that businesses are socially responsible, accountable and transparent. If governments and businesses are transparent and accountable, then the citizens become the greatest beneficiary. The profit margins of businesses will also increase and there will be sustainable development. The paper also indicates that the concept of CSR is gaining grounds in Africa and is no longer new as indicated by previous studies. It recommends that Africa should have its own CSR programmes designed to fit into the African setting. The paper examines the major issues and debates on CSR and concludes that any attempt to introduce uniform laws to ensure responsible business operations universally will not work as situations differ from country to country. The overreliance on corporate entities, particularly Multinational corporations (MNCs) and transnational corporation (TNCs), for the direct development of African economies is not sustainable, as these corporate entities cannot continue to fulfil these obligations meant for the development of infrastructure and still be expected to provide basic amenities for communities under the guise of fulfilling CSR. This process of national development is unsustainable.
The paper recommends a multi-stakeholder approach in designing and implementing CSR programmes. The government, civil society, community and the company should collaborate and constantly have stakeholder engagements as that are the only way of attaining a win-win benefit. MNCs and TNCs should see the government and other stakeholders as partners in development and not lord it over them as a result of their financial muscle. It is recommended that more research work be done in CSR education in Africa. This is to enable business operators and communities understand the true meaning of CSR and to know that the concept goes beyond philanthropy or donations. It will also help them understand that the concept goes beyond community relations to include issues such as human rights, child labour, environmental governance and corporate tax among others.
Tuokuu, F. and Amponsah-Tawiah, K. (2016), "Corporate social responsibility: is it an alternative to government?", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 26-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGR-05-2015-0007Download as .RIS
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