Research Handbook on Corporate Social Responsibility in Context
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Research Handbook on Corporate Social Responsibility in Context

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

Is corporate social responsibility (CSR) a universal idea? Is the same exact definition of CSR relevant for any organization, regardless of context? Or would such a definition need to be adapted to fit different types of organizations, in different cultures, industries and sectors? This book discusses how CSR preferably should be practiced in various generalized contexts. Experts share their knowledge on whether a broad definition of CSR can be practiced as is or if it first has to undergo changes, in as various generalized contexts as Buddhist and Islamic organizations, developing countries, the food processing industry, the shipping industry, and the pharmaceutical industry.
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Chapter 20: Against CSR: the meaning and meaninglessness of CSR in China

Shih-wei Hsu


This chapter seeks to offer a critical account of CSR. While it is believed that CSR is a reaction to Milton Friedman’s argument: ‘the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’, this chapter suggests that CSR is an economic reformist view that sees that the free market mechanism has some inherent problems which marginalize ethical behavior. Nevertheless, such a view is still rooted in an economic concept that assumes that companies should balance their financial performance and social responsibility, ultimately measured in terms of economic usefulness. The outcome is that CSR seems to legitimate an equation: good business = good ethics. The chapter employs an empirical case in China which shows that CSR can be used as a strategic tool for the companies to compete in the global market. Insofar as CSR is rooted in an economic logic, its contribution is also economic and limited to a managerial tool in dealing with the company’s relationship with society. The overall orchestration is well illustrated in Adam Smith’s story of the poor man’s son: economic progress = ethics.

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