Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 18: Doing harm while attempting good: a critical eye on corporate social responsibility
While the predominance of published academic research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) presents a positivistic position, the authors seek to provide an often-ignored discussion on the inherent conflicts that arise from the implementation of socially responsible business strategies. This chapter posits that, for a company to succeed at an optimum level, pursing social endeavors will often detract from – not build up – stakeholder value. While we do not seek to argue that companies should behave socially irresponsibly, we purport that it is the duty of the firm to generate profits and satisfy customers – not deviate towards superficial, and often marketing-driven, strategies of social endeavors. Further, it is our goal to flesh out the often-confusing and misguided notions of socially responsible behavior that lead individuals to believe that any actions of CSR are both strategically superior and beneficial to the firm. As illustrated in the preceding 17 chapters of this book, there is a preponderance of research touting the financial, social and sometimes even personal benefits of pursuing socially responsible business ventures. As with any issue, however, it is necessary to understand the flip side of the proverbial coin, as, more often than not, CSR risks becoming a detriment to business strategy and related constituencies.
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