Debates, Models and Practices Across Government, Law and Business
Chapter 1: Corporate Social Responsibility’s Contemporary Global Context
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY We are All Corporate Social Responsibility Actors Now ‘Globalisation’ is giving rise to a new political struggle, not between states and multinationals or, necessarily, between North and South, but between ‘people and corporations’. – Corporate social responsibility lawyer and consultant, Dr Jennifer Zerk1 ‘In a globalised market economy, CSR is part of modern business.’ – Wharton Business School’s Professor Tom Donaldson2 Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the most important issues and developments of the 21st century. This is because the world of the 21st century faces problems for which CSR is part of the answer. So, it is not surprising to see CSR achieving dominance as a global issue, alongside other shared governance and regulatory challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, human rights universalization, poverty eradication and socio-economic prosperity. As developments as ostensibly diverse as climate change, global economic crises, borderless trade and humanitarian disasters starkly demonstrate, we live in a world of interdependent economies, populations and ecosystems, where what corporations do matters to their shareholders, society and the world at large. The world’s response to CSR at these early stages of the 21st century will play a significant part in determining the shape and fate of the world for generations to come. Is CSR a passing social fad, an idea whose time has come, a threat to market capitalism, an intrinsic element of corporate responsibility, or even a key to humanity’s long-term survival in properly managing shared global challenges? The story...
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