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Much Ado about Nothing: The Glacial Pace of CSR Implementation in Practice

Corporate Social Responsibility

ISBN: 978-1-78754-260-0, eISBN: 978-1-78754-259-4

Publication date: 14 May 2018


Over the last several decades, businesses have faced mounting pressures from diverse stakeholders to alter their corporate operations to become more socially and environmentally responsible. In turn, many firms appear to have responded by implementing more sustainable practices — measuring, documenting, and publishing annual CSR or sustainability reports to showcase how they are addressing important issues in this area, including: resource stewardship, waste management, greenhouse gas emission reductions, fair and safe labor practices, amongst other stakeholder concerns. And yet, research in this domain has not yet systematically examined whether businesses have, on the whole, changed their practices in tandem with the important changes in its institutional context over time. Have corporate CSR initiatives, in fact, been growing over the last 25 years or has the increased attention to CSR actually been much ado about nothing? In this chapter, we review the empirical literature on CSR to uncover that common measures of CSR such as the KLD do not support the concept that CSR practices have increased substantively over the last 25 years. We supplement this historical review by modeling the growth curves of CSR implementation in practice and find that the pace of positive change has indeed been glacial. More alarmingly, we also look at corporate social irresponsibility (CSiR) and find that, contrary to expectations, businesses have become more, not less, irresponsible during this same time period. Implications of these findings for theory are presented as are suggestions for future research in this domain.



Mazutis, D. (2018), "Much Ado about Nothing: The Glacial Pace of CSR Implementation in Practice", Corporate Social Responsibility (Business and Society 360, Vol. 2), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 177-243.



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