Business and Human Rights

Business and Human Rights

Edited by Wesley Cragg

Topics discussed include the debates leading to the creation of the ISO 26000 standard and the United Nations human rights framework for business entities, as well as the nature and limits of the human rights responsibilities of business, the roles and responsibilities of international trade bodies like the World Trade Organization in protecting human rights, and the implications of the current debate for international trade agreements and trade with China. The contributors also explore the effectiveness of voluntary human rights standards in the textile and clothing trade, mining, advertising and the pharmaceutical industries.

Chapter 7: Coordinating corporate governance and corporate social responsibility

Pitman B. Potter

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, corporate governance, economics and finance, corporate governance, law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) involve internal and external expressions of the operational imperatives of business firms. Whereas corporate governance generally entails principles of business efficiency, CSR involves principles of social justice. While CSR involves primarily issues of relations between business firms and the outside community, corporate governance is largely an internal matter. And while CSR concerns challenges of justice (social, economic, environmentaland so on) for those who are affected by business behavior in the world, corporate governance generally addresses internal issues of efficiency in business management within the firm. Including CSR norms in the processes for strengthening corporate governance faces challenges similar to those facing the problem of coordinating compliance between international trade and human rights standards. These difficulties stem in part from conceptual differences and assumed trade-offs between regimes of efficiency and justice, as well as from general lack of communication and collaboration between specialists involved in these different sectors of trade and human rights. While these tensions may be somewhat less pronounced in relationships between corporate governance and CSR discourses, due in part to their being subsumed under the broader rubric of company law, they are significant nonetheless. Drawing on the author’s paradigms of ‘selective adaptation’ and ‘institutional capacity,’ this chapter will examine the normative and organizational challenges to coordinating CSR norms with corporate governance practices in China. Drawing on these normative and organizational perspectives and local examples, the chapter will examine the possibilities and obstacles to coordinating CSR and corporate governance standards. The chapter will serve as a case study on the broader topic of coordinated compliance.

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