Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an emerging field whose norms are still being written and rewritten. The concept of CSR as we know it today1 started in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and slowly spread to other developed countries in the 1980s and 1990s. The French for corporate social responsibility is Responsabilité sociale de l'entreprise (RSE), a nearly literal translation which however diverges to some extent from the original English. The concept is still unclear despite having been the subject of an increasing number of academic and professional papers, in management as well as in law journals. In the present study, we shall use the definition as set by the European Commission (2001), which defines it as ‘a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis’. The European Commission in its Communication to the Parliament (2006) has stressed the fact that ‘it is about enterprises deciding to go beyond minimum legal requirements and obligations (our emphasis) stemming from collective agreements in order to address societal needs’. The second part of the definition is often omitted, but is at the crux of the problem of determining where CSR begins and ends. Corporate practices which involve ethical, social or environmental problems are defined as CSR practices only if companies go above and beyond their legal obligations. It should also be noted that the definition does not specify which guidelines to take into account in order to identify the standards to be applied in any given circumstances.
Bessire, D. and Mazuyer, E. (2012), "Chapter 4 Norms of Corporate Social Responsibility: Densification or Degeneration?", Aras, G. and Crowther, D. (Ed.) Business Strategy and Sustainability (Developments in Corporate Governance and Responsibility, Vol. 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 67-95. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2043-0523(2012)0000003008Download as .RIS
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