Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility
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Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility

Edited by Nina Boeger, Rachel Murray and Charlotte Villiers

This book examines the concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of globalisation and its many challenges, focusing on different legal perspectives that arise.
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Chapter 2: Corporate Social Responsibility in Law and Policy

Halina Ward


Halina Ward INTRODUCTION This chapter is an attempt to draw together two of the themes in my work with colleagues and research partners over the past six years at the International Institute for Environment and Development.1 The first of the two themes addressed in this chapter is an analysis of the links between corporate social responsibility and law. The second concerns the links between CSR and public policy. As to the first of the two themes – links between CSR and law – the roots of IIED’s work lay in a frustration that the definitional insistence that ‘CSR is only about voluntary action over and above compliance with legally defined minimum standards’ and the consequent separation of ‘CSR’ and ‘corporate accountability’ serves no one well – from the most conservative businessperson, to the most ambitious ideals-driven NGO or the most market-oriented government official. Over the period from 2002–4, IIED worked hard to expand the boundaries of mainstream thinking on ‘what is CSR’ by insisting that its legal dimensions needed properly to be factored in. We pursued this endeavour in written papers and projects, in presentations, and in our advocacy. But the task we had set ourselves was Sisyphean and ultimately we admitted defeat, choosing to work under the more comfortable umbrella of ‘business and sustainable development’ rather than ‘corporate responsibility for environment and development’. The second, closely related theme that this paper addresses concerns the role of public policy in the evolution of CSR. Here the frustration, shared by many of the...

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