Premium Essay

What Do We Mean Bycorporate Social Responsibility

In: Social Issues

Submitted By rapthug21
Words 4913
Pages 20
Corporate Governance, 2001, Volume:1 Issue:2 Page:16 - 22

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

Lance Moir Cranfield School of Management

Lance Moir

Cranfield School of Management Cranfield University Cranfield Bedford England MK43 0AL Tel: +44 (0) 1234 754374 Fax: +44 (0) 1234 752554 E-mail: l.moir@cranfield.ac.uk

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

There is an increasing focus by firms on examining their social responsibilities. For example, Business in the Community published ‘Winning with Integrity’ in November 2000. This has as part of its objectives ‘to produce materials and resources on how companies should measure and report their impact on society’ (Business Impact, 2000). It lists twenty such initiatives in various areas of furthering corporate social responsibility, not including its own report. Similarly, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD, 1999) seeks to develop a clear understanding of corporate social responsibility, including a matrix of corporate social responsibility indicators.

But what is meant by Corporate Social Responsibility (‘CSR’)? Responsibility for what and to whom and who is calling for firms to be socially responsible? This article examines the broad development of the ideas behind CSR within the literature and some of the current attempts to define the social responsibilities of business. It starts by examining the debate about the nature of corporate social responsibility and current attempts to define CSR. It then looks at some theories to explain how and why business might undertake CSR –stakeholder theory, social contracts theory and legitimacy theory. The article concludes by describing ways of assessing corporate social performance – from industry and also from the academic literature.

The need for companies to undertake activity that might be...

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