Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Glenn Rayp and Laura Beke
Chapter 8: The rapprochement of ILO standards and CSR mechanisms: towards a positive understanding of the ‘privatization’ of international labour standards
According to The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, ‘The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.’ One of the central questions in the debate about corporate social responsibility (CSR) is whether the ‘public good’ is defined by private or public actors and processes. Most definitions of CSR appear to support the former position. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), ‘CSR is a voluntary, enterprise-driven initiative and refers to activities that are considered to exceed compliance with the law’. Still, private and public regulation intersect in various ways. Critics of CSR raise two concerns in this regard. First, there is the ‘displacement hypothesis’, which holds that CSR crowds out public regulatory initiatives. By taking the initiative to codify their social commitments companies pre-empt legislation.
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