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 4: Organizations that set CSR standards

Mats Jutterström

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


In Chapter 1 of this book, we claimed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is actively supported by many other organizations in society besides companies, and that this support represents an essential difference between CSR and other management ideas. But which organizations actively support CSR in the environments of companies, and what do they do? This chapter takes a closer look at these questions. The chapter focuses on one of the main activities of many CSR organizations: setting and spreading CSR rules for others to follow. We begin with an overview of the field of rule-setting CSR organizations. Then we describe the rule-setting work of three CSR organizations: the International Council of the Toy Industry (ICTI), the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the United Nations (UN). The chapter shows that the number of organizations that set CSR rules has grown dramatically since the middle of the 1990s. The population of CSR rule-setting organizations has developed numerous variants of CSR, in the form of different regulatory systems. The chapter closes with a look at what contributes to, but also counteracts, the emergence of a large number of variants of a management idea. Their main activities commonly involve monitoring, applying pres- sure, giving advice, publishing information, organizing conferences and networks, and setting rules. Many CSR organizations monitor that companies follow their CSR commitments, and live up to general norms on social responsibility. The staff of the Swedwatch organization, for example, visit companies’ operations in low-wage countries, talk to company representatives and other employees, contact stakeholder organizations and the local population, and review the material that companies publish.

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