Corporate Social Responsibility: Volume 2
Table of contents(16 chapters)
The Origins and Developments of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is presented as a series of evolving stages characterized by shifting attitudes and behaviors by business firms, their stakeholders, and public policies. Five major phases of CSR are described: CSR-1: Corporate Social Trusteeship; CSR-2: Corporate Social Responsiveness; CSR-3 Corporate-Business Ethics; CSR-4: Corporate Global Citizenship; and CSR-5: Toward a Millennial Future. Accompanying the first four CSR phases are the principal drivers and policy instruments that have activated those four CSR stages. An evolving set of generational values and attitudes about CSR — from Silent Generation to Baby Boomers to Gen-Xers to today’s Millennials — reveal the continuing development and relevance of — and the major questions and challenges about — Corporate Social Responsibility in the Millennial future.
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce and provide an overview of the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The approach is to present an introduction to the importance of the topic and a review of the concept’s evolution and development which includes an exploration of the topic’s meaning and competing and complementary frameworks which are related. Among these related concepts are the following: business ethics, stakeholder management, sustainability, corporate citizenship, creating shared value, conscious capitalism, and purpose-driven business. These concepts are frequently used interchangeably with CSR, and they have more in common than differences. At their core, each embraces value, balance, and accountability. The chapter also explores a number of key research avenues that are quite contemporary. Among these, the following topics are addressed: political CSR; the CSP–CFP relationship and business case for CSR; upstream/downstream CSR; CSR in emerging economies, corporate social activism, and corporate social irresponsibility. In the final analysis, it is argued that the topic of CSR continues to be on an upward and sustainable trajectory in both conceptual development and practice.
Assessing Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia and Europe
The origins of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been widely attributed to the work of scholars, and business managers as well, in North America and Western Europe. Inevitably, however, as the economic interaction of individual firms and entire nations has grown over the past several decades — call it globalization — so too has the concept and the practice of CSR spread throughout the world. It is certainly time to explore how CSR is being incorporated into the practice of business management in other regions and other countries. Therefore, in this chapter we will focus on Asia: specifically on Japan, South Korea, India, and China. It is interesting for academicians to understand how CSR is being absorbed and adapted into the business cultures of these four countries. Perhaps of even greater importance, it is vital that business managers know what to expect about the interaction between business and society as well as the government as their commercial activities grow in this burgeoning part of the world.
For each of these four countries, we will provide an overview of the extent to which CSR has become a part of the academic community and also how it is being practiced and incorporated in everyday management affairs. We will see that there are very significant differences among these countries which lead to the natural question: why? To answer this question, we will use an eight-part analytical framework developed specifically for this purpose. We will look at the history, the dominant religious beliefs, the relevant social customs, the geography, the political structures, the level of economic development, civil society institutions, and the “safety net” of each country. As a result of this analysis, we believe, academicians can learn how CSR is absorbed and spread into commercial affairs, and managers can profit from learning more about what to expect when doing business in this increasingly important region.
Legislated CSR: A Brief Introduction
Although corporate social responsibility (CSR) is typically conceptualized as a discretionary pursuit that firms voluntarily engage in, state intervention in CSR — which we call legislated CSR — has been increasing globally. The nature and scope of CSR legislations, however, vary among countries. This chapter provides a broad overview of legislated CSR but it also presents a detailed analysis of a specific CSR legislation, the CSR law of India, in order to closely examine how and why CSR legislations emerge and what could be their implications for CSR.
Despite the abundant literature on CSR, the implementation of social responsibility in public sector organizations is still underexplored. And this despite the fact that, as illustration, the public sector accounts for more than one-third of the economic activity in Belgium. Moreover, public sector organizations have an example function toward other societal actors, and by implementing social responsibility themselves, they are likely to provide a strong signal to the market. In this chapter, we approach the example role of public organizations in CSR implementation by doing a qualitative research of 14 (out of 19) municipalities in Brussels and focus thereby on the implementation of a social responsibility proxy, “Local Agenda 21” (LA21). We find that political support, through key political figures and the opposition, are very important for the success of the implementation of social responsibility in municipalities. We were surprised to learn that municipalities are experiencing competition amongst each other regarding LA21 implementation. However, the most unexpected result of our study was that municipalities reported that their involvement in LA21 seems to have only a limited impact on the private sector. Therefore, the argument of government institutions “leading by example” requires further investigation.
Investigating Corporate Social Responsibility in Practice
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.
This chapter outlines the nascent history of the Benefit Movement, discusses the theoretical implications that predict the long-term success of movement goals, and provides recommendations for firms who seek to safeguard practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The chapter provides an overview of Benefit forms and describes the indicators of Movement success. For the Benefit Movement to achieve success, it must establish legal options in all 50 states for Benefit incorporation, pave the way for both publicly and privately held organizations to incorporate, and mobilize diverse organizational actors with high levels of commitment to sustain contention for Movement goals. The chapter provides a framework to understand how the Movement can achieve its goal of safeguarding the effective practice of CSR within firms and across the planet.
Taylor Won: The Triumph of Scientific Management and Its Meaning for Business and Society
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the proliferation of scientific management and then to consider its effect on business and society. Our examination begins with a brief survey of various management approaches that emerged in the early twentieth century. We focus on Frederick Taylor, the originator of scientific management, as the person with the greatest influence on management scholarship. We assert that the propagation of scientific management in all sectors of business and society is so pervasive that is it ubiquitous, making it exceedingly difficult to consciously detect or question. We examine how core ideas from scientific management have facilitated the dehumanization of stakeholders in management scholarship and practice. We then discuss how dehumanizing tendencies — informed by the hidden ubiquity of scientific management — have permeated research in corporate social responsibility and management theory. We conclude with suggestions for integrating humanity into management theory.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate political activity (CPA) are two important components of firms’ nonmarket strategies, oriented toward shaping the firm’s political and social conditions. Although this is acknowledged in the literature, there are contradictory arguments and evidence, concerning, first, whether and under which conditions firms align their CPA and CSR activities, and second, what the impacts might be if they do align these activities. In light of this, this chapter draws from earlier reviews of nonmarket strategies, to explore the factors at multiple levels, macro and micro, that may drive a firm’s alignment of CPA and CSR. In doing so, we draw from management research to identify the macro- and micro-level factors that shape CPA and CSR alignment as CSR and CPA alignment research mostly focuses on outcomes rather than identifying the drivers of alignment. We develop a general model that integrates the macro- and micro-level discussions to make suggestions about where future research needs to go to increase understanding of when corporations will combine their CPA and CSR efforts and the merits of these efforts.
The purpose of this literature review is to reorient empirical research on the causal links between corporate ecological sustainability (CES) and corporate financial performance (CFP). Toward this end, we summarize the findings of four meta-analyses (conducted between 2012 and 2016), which indicate that there is, on average, a small positive association between CES and CFP. In addition, these empirical associations seem to be contingent on the firm’s strategic approach with regard to ecological sustainability (e.g., proactive vs reactive approach) and on the operationalization of both constructs. We conclude that future research may benefit from an even more explicit, analytic shift to the circumstances under which it pays for firms to go green. The main research limitations we point out are model misspecifications, endogeneity, and problems in the measurement of both CES and CFP.
The Future Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility
Both the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are foundational to the field of Business & Society (B&S). However, efforts to define and operationalize this construct have been undermined by definitional discord arising from the disparate sense-making assumptions and methods of competing North American and European research traditions. Scholars wedded to the North American research tradition have striven mightily to uncover “objective” evidence in support of the instrumental proposition that IF corporate executives were to invest more resources to enhance social and environmental performance, THEN the firm’s burnished brand image, reputation, and perceived legitimacy would elevate the firm’s long-term financial performance as well. However, the inconclusive statistical record has failed to move many corporate decision makers beyond the minimal social and environmental investments needed to create the impression of compliance with societal expectations. The proliferation of corporate scandals and the pattern of settling legal disputes without admitting guilt are also troubling. The muted impact of B&S research based on proving the instrumental proposition has prompted a new generation of European B&S scholars to explore the sense-making potential of the European research tradition, which seeks meaning and normative validity within a pluralist crucible of community discourse. This contested communicative space is filled with paradoxical tensions and contending stakeholder voices and narratives. With respect to CSR, this discursive sense-making process is animated by an aspiration toward constructing shared meanings that can guide a search for more collaborative approaches to addressing systemic challenges via stakeholder engagement and experiments in multisector collaborative problem-solving. Rather than try to scientifically “prove” a fact-based pre-existing condition, this approach embraces “an emergent and mediated form of strategic ambiguity” to keep open the possibility of “fulfilling often conflicting instrumental and social/ethical imperatives at the same time” (Guthey & Morsing, 2014, p. 556). This discourse-based search for shared meanings in support of a convergence of economic, social, and environmental values frames CSR as an aspirational cocreative process rather than as a pyramid of normative assertions loosely grounded on a search for validation in efforts to find correlations (or causation) within an assortment of “objective” facts. The discursive approach to constructing CSR also highlights the relevance of the emergence of institutional innovations that enable network interactions to address shared systemic problems. Ultimately, CSR may be expressed as a form of network governance seeking to assure the sustainable outcome of system health and vitality across micro-, meso-, and meta-levels of thought and action.
This chapter argues that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and even corporate sustainability and responsibility will be insufficient to generate the transformation needed for businesses, economies, and societies to deal with potentially existential sustainability, climate change, and inequality crises. A new socio-economic narrative needs to be created to underpin thinking about economies, societies, and nature. After briefly looking at CSR today, the paper discusses the power that the neoliberal narrative has in shaping understanding of the roles and purposes of businesses. It then argues for a new narrative emphasizing well-being, dignity, and sustainability, an economy in service to life, as an alternative, highlighting the powerful role that memes, core units of culture, play in shaping narratives.
Research in corporate social responsibility and performance (CSR/CSP) has made very significant advances over the past several decades, yet there is so much more to be done. Research in this area is exceptionally difficult because of corporate opaqueness and secrecy, the lack of a viable guiding theory, and the juxtaposition of CSR/CSP against the prevailing neoclassical economic theory of the firm. Researchers’ choices of topic, domain, theory, variables and their operational surrogates, data, and analytical method have all come a long way but require a great deal more conscious refinement. Pressures on untenured researchers and those not fully promoted are tremendous; thus, senior scholars are in the best position to organize and supervise research projects of serious benefit to CSR/CSP knowledge and understanding.
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- Business and Society 360
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