CSR as a Management Idea

CSR as a Management Idea

Ethics in Action

Edited by Mats Jutterström and Peter Norberg

CSR (corporate social responsibility) has become a widely diffused concept in the business world. This book explores CSR as a management idea, that is, as a tool for organizational reform. It shows that CSR has much in common with other popular management ideas such as lean production, total-quality-management, just-in-time, business-process-reengineering and six sigma, but there are also significant differences.

Chapter 2: Similarities and differences between management ideas

Mats Jutterström

Subjects: business and management, asia business, business ethics and trust


In Chapter 1, we argued that corporate social responsibility (CSR) in many ways resembles other widely diffused management concepts. We called these concepts ‘popular management ideas’. The similarities between CSR and other management ideas open the way for a central message of this book: we can learn more about CSR by connecting this concept to what we know about popular management ideas in general. In this chapter, therefore, we discuss research on management ideas, and research that is relevant for understanding them. Some key features that many management ideas share are how the ideas arise, diffuse and change in the surrounding environment. But also internal organizational characteristics unite them, such as explanations of why organizations decide to adopt the ideas, and common implementation problems. Dealing with such external and internal aspects of management ideas, the chapter mainly connects to two broader theoretical sub-areas of organizational literature: institutional theory and literature on organization reform. At the same time as the chapter addresses several unifying characteristics of management ideas, CSR and others, reviewing them also serves as a starting point for closer investigation of what the similarities look like in practice. However, the chapter deals not only with similarities; we also look at how far the similarities go, and in what ways CSR seems to differ from other popular management ideas in general. In the first chapter, we talked about CSR as involving rules for what business activities should look like and how they should be run.

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