Debates, Models and Practices Across Government, Law and Business
Chapter 2: Concepts and Elements of Corporate Social Responsibility
DEFINING AND ANALYSING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY The debate around the role of corporations in the community versus their role in maximising shareholder proﬁts seems to ﬁre up again and again. What surprises me is that a debate exists at all. The business case for corporate social responsibility is clear . . . (C)orporate social responsibility isn’t a case of a stockholder versus stakeholder argument, but is a critical part of maximising shareholder returns. Simply, corporate social responsibility is in the best interests of our shareholders and is fundamental to proﬁt creation and sustainability. – BHP Billiton CEO, Chip Goodyear1 The Meaning of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ The house of CSR has many rooms in the 21st century. The task of defining CSR is made more difficult by mass confusion and disagreement worldwide about what counts as CSR, what responsibilities it embraces, what justifications exist for CSR, and whether the idea of corporations having any kind of societal responsibility at all even makes sense.2 CSR has many different definitions, grounded in many different standpoints from which it can be approached. No consensus yet exists worldwide about an appropriate taxonomy for CSR, let alone its main forms and ends. ‘Given the diversity of terms deployed to cover the various ethical issues relating to business, it is impossible to find a meaning that will accommodate even the majority of actual uses of the term, “CSR”, let alone its increasingly popular surrogate “corporate sustainability”’, suggests legal philosopher and CSR scholar, Professor Tom Campbell.3 CSR is...
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