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Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship


  • David P. Baron


ABSTRACT Milton Friedman argued that the social responsibility of firms is to maximize profits. This paper examines this argument for the economic environment envisioned by Friedman in which citizens can personally give to social causes and can invest in profit-maximizing firms and firms that give a portion of their profits to social causes. Citizens obtain social satisfaction from corporate social giving, but corporate giving may not be a perfect substitute for personal giving. The paper presents a theory of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and shows that CSR is costly when it is an imperfect substitute. When investors anticipate the CSR, shareholders do not bear its cost. Instead, the entrepreneurs who form the CSR firms bear the cost. Shareholders bear the cost of CSR only when it is a surprise, and it is to such surprises that Friedman objects. A social entrepreneur is willing to form a CSR firm at a financial loss because either doing so expands the opportunity sets of citizens in consumption-social giving space or there is an entrepreneurial warm glow from forming the firm. Firms can also undertake strategic CSR activities that increase profits, and a social entrepreneur carries strategic CSR beyond profit maximization and market value maximization. The paper also examines the implications of taxes and the effect of the market for control for the sustainability of CSR. Copyright 2007, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2007 Blackwell Publishing.

Suggested Citation

  • David P. Baron, 2007. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 683-717, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:16:y:2007:i:3:p:683-717

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy J. Feddersen & Thomas W. Gilligan, 2001. "Saints and Markets: Activists and the Supply of Credence Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 149-171, March.
    2. Maxwell, John W & Lyon, Thomas P & Hackett, Steven C, 2000. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 583-617, October.
    3. Robert Innes, 2006. "A Theory of Consumer Boycotts under Symmetric Information and Imperfect Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 355-381, April.
    4. Lyon, Thomas P. & Maxwell, John W., 2003. "Self-regulation, taxation and public voluntary environmental agreements," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1453-1486, August.
    5. Ernesto Dal Bó & Pedro Dal Bó & Rafael Di Tella, 2002. "'Plata o Plomo': Bribe and Punishment in a Theory of Political Influence," Working Papers 2002-28, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    6. David P. Baron, 2003. "Private Politics," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 31-66, March.
    7. Segerson, Kathleen & Miceli, Thomas J., 1998. "Voluntary Environmental Agreements: Good or Bad News for Environmental Protection?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-130, September.
    8. Ernesto Dal Bó & Pedro Dal Bó & Rafael Di Tella, 2007. "Reputation When Threats and Transfers Are Available," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 577-598, September.
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