Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Performance

Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Performance

Theories and Evidence about Organizational Responsibility

Tobias Gössling

Does it pay for businesses to act morally? This book attempts to answer this question. Taking a positive approach, it demonstrates that, under certain conditions, organizations can act responsibly and profitably at the same time. It elaborates on these conditions and provides evidence for the assumed positive relation between responsibility and profitability.

Chapter 2: Development of the Concept of CSR

Tobias Gössling

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, management and sustainability, organisation studies, environment, environmental management


Introduction Fortunately, the discussion about business ethics (BE) has passed the stage of disagreement between those who thought of BE as an important topic and those who argued that business and ethics did not fit together or that ethical issues were not at stake for business organizations (Friedman, 1970; Luhmann and Spaemann, 1996). In the meantime, there seems to be an agreement about the relevance of the discussion in academia, on the one hand, and about the consequences for practitioners on the other. Managers, consultants, and so on should learn moral competencies, and academics should research the consequences of moral behaviour and do evaluation research about how to avoid moral problems, how to cope with moral problems, how to train the staff, and how to establish institutions that promote moral behaviour. Furthermore, practitioners have accepted and understood the meaning of moral claims of their stakeholders as well as the consequences for business performance (Hilman and Keim, 2001; Gössling, 2003). As a consequence, practitioners have developed tools of moral management and corporate social responsibility. The most important purpose of such approaches is to respond to moral claims of society, to anticipate these claims, and eventually to avoid sanctions and negative economic consequences. So far, apparently, the debate between academics and practitioners, stakeholders and shareholders has led to a situation that is characterized by an agreement about the importance of corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship for societies, on the one hand, and for organizational legitimacy and the possibility for profit...

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