NGOs and Social Responsibility: Volume 1

Cover of NGOs and Social Responsibility

Table of contents

(20 chapters)
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Pages ix-xii
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Although the relationship between organisations and society has been subject to much debate, often of a critical nature, evidence continues to mount that the best companies make a positive impact on their environment. Furthermore, the evidence continues to mount that such socially responsible behaviour is good for business, not just in ethical terms but also in financial terms – in other words that corporate social responsibility is good for business as well as all its stakeholders. Thus, ethical behaviour and a concern for people and for the environment have been shown to have a positive correlation with corporate performance. Indeed, evidence continues to mount concerning the benefit to business from socially responsible behaviour, and, in the main, this benefit is no longer questioned by business managers. The nature of corporate social responsibility is therefore a topical one for business, governments, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), consultants and academics. This book is designed to act as a forum for the debate and analysis of some of the contemporary issues in this broad area. In doing this, it is based on contributions from people from a wide variety of disciplines and geographic regions leading to diverse views and a stimulating interchange.


Pages xiii-xvii
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The agenda of research concerning corporate social responsibility (CSR) has changed a lot recently and continues to change. It is quite noticeable for example how much more prominent CSR has become – not just in the academic world and in the business world but also is everyday life. There are obviously a lot of factors that have led to this increasing interest – things such as poor business behaviour towards customers, employees and the environment. Since then, other things have also featured prominently in popular consciousness. One of these which has become more pronounced is the issue of climate change, and this has affected concern about CSR through a concern with the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide. Nowadays, it is quite common for people to know and discuss the size of their carbon footprint, whereas three years ago, people in general did not even know what a carbon footprint was.


Pages 3-5
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Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) are an important topic of research in their own right to understand how corporate social responsibility (CSR) operates in such organisations. To consider this, it is first necessary to consider the extent to which existing theory applies to such organisations. Thus, what we first need to know is whether CSR in NGOs works similarly to the way it does in commercial organisations and therefore existing theory is applicable or whether it works differently but the same theory is applicable or even whether it works completely differently and new theory is needed. The starting point therefore for this book is to investigate some theoretical issues to consider this question and help to arrive at an answer. This is very pertinent because we are still discovering that CSR is not the same in all parts of the world, with differences between developed and developing countries and differences between multinationals and SMEs (see Aras, Crowther, & Vettori, 2009 and the various chapters therein).

The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to have become ubiquitous and to be understood all around the world. Not only has it become ubiquitous, but also it has become seen as a positive aspect of corporate behaviour. It seems therefore to have become generally accepted by businesses and their managers, by governments and their agencies, and by the general public that there is considerable benefit in engaging in CSR (Crowther & Seifi, 2010). Consequently every organisation is increasingly going to have its CSR policy that will have been translated into activity. Although many people remain cynical about the genuineness of such corporate activity, the evidence continues to mount that corporations are actually engaging in such socially responsible activity, not least because they recognise the benefits which accrue. It seems therefore that the battle is won and everyone accepts the need for CSR activity – all that remains for discussion is how exactly to engage in such activity and how to report upon that activity. Even this has been largely addressed through such vehicles as GRI and the forthcoming ISO 26000.

Since much of civil society groups’ attention has been on pressurising specifically corporate companies to take up their responsibility towards society, it has been an area of focus that is attracting increasing debate. Today companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) ranges from ‘going green’ to supporting local charities. However, one thing is increasingly clear: it is not a choice any longer. Employees expect it, and companies need it. What used to be considered good public relations, or window dressing for community relations, is in fact linked to how well a company's employees perform. In fact, in a Global Workforce study done by Towers Perrin (2009) it was found that CSR is the third most important driver of employee engagement overall. For companies in the United States (US), an organisation's stature in the community is the second most important driver of employee engagement, and a company's reputation for social responsibility is also among the top 10 drivers. Importantly, this is one example of the increasing authoritative influence of a rising global civil society in international affairs.

Being responsible is on the agenda for governments, businesses, and individuals. But who is responsible for unemployment, the social ills, and disasters of the modern world? Which means, today, who takes responsibility and fosters solidarity?


Pages 77-79
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The first part dealt with some important meta-perspectives in this field but now our attention turns to a more local perspective and some pertinent issues regarding this developing field. In this part, therefore, the authors have taken a different level of analysis that has shown similar features. These are the dominance of forces for globalisation which create a tendency for homogeneity and harmonisation. In opposition to this is the strength of cultural influences that tend to favour a traditional and individual approach to governance and social responsibility issues. These two forces seem to exist in a constant state of tension, and this is something very often ignored by the discourse, although it is dealt with extensively by the various contributors in Aras and Crowther (2008).

Owing to the changing roles of business enterprises in social life, the term “corporate social responsibilty” has received growing interest both in the related literature and in practical applications. Although the framework of the term is still debatable, it is acknowledged that the issues involved in the concept have significant functions for society as a whole and for the business enterprises involved.

As recently as the 1970s, scholars were defending the proposition that the only responsibility of businesses was to maximize its profits (Friedman, 1970). The ensuing years saw the birth and growth of another proposition: that the responsibilities of businesses extend beyond profitability, particularly short run profitability, to embrace a larger responsibility to society. The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was initially fed by scandals concerning defective products, political misbehavior, executive corruption, and labor abuses. The CSR agenda rapidly expanded in the 1980s, driven by very public incidents such as the Exxon Valdez and Amoco Cadiz oil spills, the ICMESA Italian dioxin release, the Bhobal chemical spill, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, the Three Mile Island near disaster, and the discovery of the ozone “hole” to include environmental concerns. Interest in CSR concerns expanded further, in response to such occurrences as the massive destruction of tropical forests and the exploding amount of greenhouse gases produced in both the expanding economies of China and India and the developed economy of the United States, to include the realization that the link between corporate decision making and disasters has become truly global in their impacts. The size and dominance of multinational and transitional economic organizations have brought an appreciation of their global impacts into the center of consciousness of the modern world.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) fulfil a vital role in society, filling the gap often left between civic responsibility undertaken through an agency of the government and personal responsibility often undertaken through the family. Indeed the modern streamlined state very often deliberately relies on such NGOs to undertake responsibilities previously undertaken by the state, such as health, welfare and educational roles, which can no longer be undertaken due to the twisted logic of privatisation. To fill the gap, states often rely on NGOs and provide funding accordingly – a state obligation undertaken by proxy. The role and significance of NGOs has therefore risen accordingly; commensurate with this we have seen an explosion in the number of NGOs and a concomitant explosion in the spheres of influence of such organisations and in the roles that they claim for themselves.


Pages 135-137
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In the previous parts of this book, we have considered a variety of theoretical and practical issues concerning the operation of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in the context of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility as well as their relationship with commercial organisations and with civil society in general. In this final part of the book, we look at some more specific issues related to actual organisations, situations and scenarios. In doing so, it is intended to give an indication of possible areas for further research to academics and researchers.

There is a growing awareness that philanthropy and making donations reflect forms of action that remain distant from communities and may be assumed to generate lesser impact. To this end, some companies have made visible efforts to respond to a need to reinvent their forms of interaction with society so as to ensure direct involvement, stronger both in the bonds created and the level of intervention engaged in. It is within the scope of this challenge that corporate volunteering (CV) is located.

Grass roots movements in relationships of cooperation and conflict between firms, communities, and government have an important role to stop a living city from disappearing. This chapter describes and analyzes the implications of the collective action used by grass roots movements in the defense of an old mining town, Cerro de San Pedro, of being disappeared due to the pollution of fresh watersheds by the operations of a mining company and the effects on the living city of San Luis Potosì, in the center of Mèxico.

Mixing corporate social responsibility (CSR) with the zoo will likely provoke debate and discourse beyond these pages. However, this chapter intends to use the convergence of this business philosophy with this business area to address the fragile perspectives of responsibe practices in controversial industries. From “oil” to the now more politically correct terminology of “energy,” many industries are trying to reinvent themselves and their missions in light of external pressures. Leisure-related services can also be included and none more so than the modern zoos (and aquariums) that have tinkered with image from family entertainment to conservationists in action. In the sector of visitor attractions, the long-standing issue of zoos and whether it is acceptable to retain animals for the entertainment of spectators have been addressed by the zoo industry itself and by the watchdog organizations alike.

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Güler Aras ( is a professor of Finance and Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey. She has published 16 books and has contributed over 150 articles to academic, business, and professional journals and magazines and to edited book collections. She has also spoken extensively at conferences and seminars and has acted as a consultant to a wide range of government and commercial organizations. Her research is into financial economy and financial markets with particular emphasis on the relationship between corporate social responsibility and a firm's financial performance.

Author Index

Pages 213-214
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Cover of NGOs and Social Responsibility
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Book series
Developments in Corporate Governance and Responsibility
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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