Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Nina Boeger, Rachel Murray and Charlotte Villiers
Nina Boeger, Rachel Murray and Charlotte Villiers What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and what exactly does the term encompass? Is CSR necessarily a good thing? As this collection of essays illustrates, the answers to these questions are essential for a rational system to be devised in order to respond adequately or appropriately to the challenges raised in the CSR debate. Globalization adds to these definitional challenges, as a term that also has problems of definition. Is global economic growth a (politically neutral) means of wealth-creation and -distribution or a (political) good in its own right? The answers to these questions will affect our views of CSR, and how it is enforced. Where definitions are not settled, identifying the aims and expectations also becomes difficult. Misunderstandings arise alongside contradictions and competing approaches. For example, there exists competition between the notions of sustainable development, including environmental concerns, and social policy concerns focusing on poverty reduction and decent standards of living. The fact that either can and has been pursued through CSR merely serves to highlight what a wide field the CSR debate covers, and that there is a need for clear definitions. ‘Social responsibility’ and ‘corporate responsibility’, and related terms such as ‘corporate governance’, corporate ‘stakeholder’ or ‘shareholder’ models all need to be carefully defined, to avoid talking at cross-purposes. This collection of essays arises out of a symposium in which lawyers from different spheres were brought together to discuss CSR in the context of globalization (Bristol EC–International Law Forum:...