The concept of corporate social responsibility: a philosophical approach
AbstractCorporate social responsibility (CSR), or the idea that companies shouldcombine economic, social and environmental concerns, seems an unavoidablecomponent of discourses on business and society. Why is this the case? Is itbecause we are in a post neoliberal era, and in an economic crisis, that we are acknowledging the drawbacks of unrestrained business activity? Or is theopposite true, and the popularity of CSR is the product of the triumph ofneoliberal ideology? Both views can be supported by equally convincingtheoretical and empirical arguments. In this paper rather than arguing for eitherview, I propose to set the problem of CSR according to a different perspective,which may help to move beyond narrow alternative of CSR as â€˜reaction toneoliberalismâ€™ or â€˜as product of neoliberalism.â€™My thesis is that CSR and its concerns are much older than neoliberalismand post-neoliberalism. These are concerns that have to do with how toorganize our social life, and what institutional arrangements can better promotejustice and well-being. These concerns have to do with economy and politics atthe same time. While many people may think that corporate socialresponsibility is empty rhetoric, I argue here that there is some substance toCSR, and that this substance has to do with the inextricable connectionbetween economic, political and moral concerns. In the first part, I argue thatdisagreements about the nature of CSR can be addressed using the distinctionbetween â€˜conceptâ€™ and â€˜conception.â€™ I identify the main understandings of CSR,and argue that all obscure, to varying degrees, the nuances of the relationshipbetween economy and politics. In the second part, I argue that the relationshipbetween politics and the market, which lies at the core of CSR, can be betterunderstood if we reverse the neoclassical analogy between market and politics.In the third part, I address the opposition between voluntary and hardregulation and link this opposition to the tension between political means andends. I conclude with some questions about the limitations of the labelâ€˜Corporate Social Responsibility.â€™
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS), The Hague in its series ISS Working Papers - General Series with number 508.
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2010
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politics; corporate social responsibility; market; freedom; morality; CSR; liberalism;
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