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Jacob Dahl Rendtorff

In this chapter, I would like to argue that the future research agenda in corporate social responsibility (CSR) will move beyond strategic responsibility and become a major ethical concern at all levels of society. The chapter will demonstrate the importance of the concept of responsibility as the foundation of ethics in particular in the fields of politics and economics in the modern civilization marked by globalization and technological progress. I consider that the concept of responsibility in the future will be the key notion in order to understand the ethical duty in a modern technological civilization. We can indeed observe a moralization of the concept of responsibility going beyond a strict legal definition in terms of imputability. Moreover, this implies that corporate responsibility cannot solely be defined strategically in terms of profits or shared values. The chapter begins by discussing the humanistic foundations of such a concept of responsibility. It looks at the historical origins of responsibility and it relates this concept to the concept of accountability. On the basis of this historical determination of the concept I would like to present the definition of the concept of responsibility as a fundamental ethical principle that has increasing importance as the foundation of the principles of governance in modern welfare states. In this context the chapter discusses the extension of the concept of responsibility towards institutional or corporate ethical responsibility where responsibility does not only concern the responsibility of individuals but also deals with the responsibility of institutional collectivities.