Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 3: The relationship between marketing ethics and corporate social responsibility: serving stakeholders and the common good
Marketing ethics (ME) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are related concepts that often cause definitional confusion among academics attempting to analyze social issues in marketing. The same linguistic obstacles confound public policy makers when they suggest regulatory adjustments to market sectors, especially when they invoke descriptors couched in ethical or socially responsible phraseology. Academic researchers also regularly struggle with the ME and CSR terminology due, in part, to confusion deriving from the ‘level of analysis’ that is being addressed (manager’s focus versus firm-centered orientation). The purpose of this chapter is to explore the concepts of ME and CSR, establish their relative relationship and, in so doing, develop deeper insights about how these two constructs strategically connect. Thus, in the dialogue below, we hope to untangle these definitions and better position CSR in its historic, normative role as it complements traditional insights into marketing ethics. Another desired payoff is that this exercise will help scholars develop clearer perspectives about what moral obligations marketing practitioners normatively owe the stakeholders that they impact – both financially and socially. While our discussion of these complex terms will probably be found by some readers to be unsatisfactory because this is not a comprehensive literature review, we hope to take the analysis – rooted in the extant literature to be sure – to a fuller and more macro level than normally found in academic treatises about these concepts.
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