Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

Debates, Models and Practices Across Government, Law and Business

Bryan Horrigan

Professor Bryan Horrigan spans subjects as diverse and topical as global corporate responsibility and governance debates, practical guidelines for responsible businesses and their professional advisers, governmental roles in corporate social responsibility, corporations and human rights, and the new era of ‘enlightened shareholder value’. He also highlights an emerging transnational and comparative body of law, regulation, and practice on corporate social responsibility. Illustrated throughout with meaningful controversies and examples, the book also highlights the major recent global developments in corporate social responsibility already this century, focusing especially on Europe, the UK, North America, and Australasia, and charting its future regulatory and research directions worldwide.

Chapter 2: Concepts and Elements of Corporate Social Responsibility

Bryan Horrigan

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, environment, environmental management, law - academic, corporate law and governance, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


DEFINING AND ANALYSING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY The debate around the role of corporations in the community versus their role in maximising shareholder profits seems to fire up again and again. What surprises me is that a debate exists at all. The business case for corporate social responsibility is clear . . . (C)orporate social responsibility isn’t a case of a stockholder versus stakeholder argument, but is a critical part of maximising shareholder returns. Simply, corporate social responsibility is in the best interests of our shareholders and is fundamental to profit creation and sustainability. – BHP Billiton CEO, Chip Goodyear1 The Meaning of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ The house of CSR has many rooms in the 21st century. The task of defining CSR is made more difficult by mass confusion and disagreement worldwide about what counts as CSR, what responsibilities it embraces, what justifications exist for CSR, and whether the idea of corporations having any kind of societal responsibility at all even makes sense.2 CSR has many different definitions, grounded in many different standpoints from which it can be approached. No consensus yet exists worldwide about an appropriate taxonomy for CSR, let alone its main forms and ends. ‘Given the diversity of terms deployed to cover the various ethical issues relating to business, it is impossible to find a meaning that will accommodate even the majority of actual uses of the term, “CSR”, let alone its increasingly popular surrogate “corporate sustainability”’, suggests legal philosopher and CSR scholar, Professor Tom Campbell.3 CSR is...

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