Chapter 10: Social responsibility and sustainability
For the last six decades, in the Western world, social responsibility (SR) has become a dominant topic of ethics in the discourse on business and organizations. However, irrespective of the rising secular emphasis on social responsibility, the topic has its roots in the religious and philosophical discourse which took place centuries ago. While religions across centuries have underscored individuals’ obligations toward their primary groups and societies, these obligations have not been clearly articulated in any form and their relevance and implications to the modern business world have often, until recently, been overlooked. In this chapter, the issue of social responsibility in the context of Islamic thinking is addressed. In particular, we intend to highlight how Islamic prescriptions and the teachings of early scholars have set the boundaries for ethical conduct and how observing responsibilities toward individuals and society at large have been viewed as instrumental in establishing a healthy and economically functional and stable society. In this regard, social responsibility is viewed on three levels: the individual, the corporation, and government. Before addressing the topic from Islamic perspectives, it is important to outline, at the corporate level, the evolution of the concept in the Western world. There are many scholars who have argued that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a Western concept (Idemudia 2011; Ip, 2008; Muller and Kolk, 2009; UNIDO, 2007).
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