IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Corporate social responsibility and the ‘game of catallaxy’: the perspective of constitutional economics


  • Viktor Vanberg


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become not only a growing subject in business schools and in academic as well as public discourse more generally, the CSR-movement has grown into a major industry providing a profitable niche for a variety of non-profit organizations. The literature devoted to CSR can fill libraries, and sorting out the variety of arguments that academic researchers on, and political advocates of, corporate social responsibility have advanced is a Sisyphean task. The purpose of this paper is to identify and examine some of the more fundamental arguments by approaching the matter from the perspective of constitutional economics. The focus of my analysis will be on the issue that Milton Friedman (1970) has raised in a famous essay that has become a catalyst in the debate on CSR and by far the most often quoted paper in this debate. Restating an argument made earlier in his Capitalism and Freedom Friedman noted in this essay: "In a free-enterprise, private-property system a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers."
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Viktor Vanberg, 2007. "Corporate social responsibility and the ‘game of catallaxy’: the perspective of constitutional economics," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 199-222, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:18:y:2007:i:3:p:199-222
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-007-9022-4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Preston, Lee E. & Sapienza, Harry J., 1990. "Stakeholder management and corporate performance," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 361-375.
    2. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2005. "Market and state: the perspective of constitutional political economy," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 23-49, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lars P. Feld & Manuel Kallweit & Anabell Kohlmeier, 2013. "Maßnahmen zur Vermeidung von Altersarmut: Makroökonomische Folgen und Verteilungseffekte," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(3-4), pages 279-304, August.
    2. Christofzik, Desirée I. & Feld, Lars P. & Yeter, Mustafa, 2019. "Öffentliche Investitionen: Wie viel ist zu wenig?," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 19/02, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    3. Feld Lars P. & Reuter Wolf Heinrich & Yeter Mustafa, 2019. "Öffentliche Investitionen: Die Schuldenbremse ist nicht das Problem," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 20(4), pages 292-303, December.
    4. Schnellenbach, Jan, 2014. "Neuer Paternalismus und individuelle Rationalität: eine ordnungsökonomische Perspektive," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/08, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    5. Shigeki Kusunoki, 2016. "Hayek on corporate social responsibility," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 93-110, March.
    6. Shinji Teraji, 2014. "On cognition and cultural evolution," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 13(2), pages 167-182, November.
    7. Pies, Ingo & Beckmann, Markus & Hielscher, Stefan, 2009. "Competitive markets, corporate firms, and new governance - An ordonomic conceptualization," Discussion Papers 2009-13, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Chair of Economic Ethics.
    8. Bernd Fitzenberger & Annabelle Doerr, 2016. "Konzeptionelle Lehren aus der ersten Evaluationsrunde der Branchenmindestlöhne in Deutschland [Conceptual lessons from the evaluation studies on sectoral minimum wages in Germany]," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 49(4), pages 329-347, December.
    9. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2013. "Föderaler Wettbewerb, Bürgersouveränität und die zwei Rollen des Staates," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 13/3, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    10. Feld, Lars P. & Nöh, Lukas & Reuter, Wolf Heinrich & Yeter, Mustafa, 2021. "Von der Corona-bedingten Schuldenaufnahme zur Wiedereinhaltung der Schuldenbremse," Working Papers 01/2021, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    11. Bury, Yannick & Feld, Lars P., 2018. "Die Heterogenität der kommunalen Haushalts- und Aufsichtsregeln als Herausforderung im vertikalisierten Fiskalföderalismus," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 18/12, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    12. Erwan Queinnec & Pierre Desrochers, 2012. "Can Market Economy Be Ecology-Friendly ? The Case Of Waste Recycling In The Nineteenth Century," Post-Print hal-01367963, HAL.
    13. Feld, Lars P. & Osterloh, Steffen, 2013. "Is a fiscal capacity really necessary to complete EMU?," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 13/5, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    14. Feld, Lars P., 2018. "Zur politischen Ökonomik der wirtschaftspolitischen Beratung: Der Sachverständigenrat als ordnungspolitisches Gewissen?," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 18/07, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    15. Christoph Luetge & Thomas Armbrüster & Julian Müller, 2016. "Order Ethics: Bridging the Gap Between Contractarianism and Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 136(4), pages 687-697, July.
    16. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2014. "Liberalismus und Demokratie: Zu einer vernachlässigten Seite der liberalen Denktradition," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/04, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    17. Feld, Lars P., 2020. "Verfahren zum Anleihekaufprogramm der EZB (2 BvR 859/15, 2 BvR 1651/15, 2 BvR 2006/15, 2 BvR 980/16): Stellungnahme zum Fragenkatalog für sachverständige Dritte," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 20/02, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    18. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2015. "Competitive federalism, government's dual role, and the power to tax," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 15/05, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    19. Borella, Sara, 2008. "EU-Migrationspolitik: Bremse statt Motor der Liberalisierung," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 08/10, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Wohlgemuth, Michael, 2005. "Politik und Emotionen: Emotionale Politikgrundlagen und Politiken indirekter Emotionssteuerung," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 05/9, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    2. Vanberg Viktor J., 2014. "Evolving Preferences and Welfare Economics: The Perspective of Constitutional Political Economy," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 234(2-3), pages 328-349, April.
    3. Bazin, Damien, 2009. "What exactly is corporate responsibility towards nature?: Ecological responsibility or management of nature?: A pluri-disciplinary standpoint," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 634-642, January.
    4. Dold, Malte & Krieger, Tim, 2019. "The ideological use and abuse of Freiburg's ordoliberalism," Discussion Paper Series 2019-04, University of Freiburg, Wilfried Guth Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy.
    5. Adrian Pabst & Roberto Scazzieri, 2012. "The political economy of civil society," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 337-356, December.
    6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2009. "Should National Happiness be Maximized?," Chapters, in: Amitava Krishna Dutt & Benjamin Radcliff (ed.), Happiness, Economics and Politics, chapter 14, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. John Meadowcroft, 2020. "Buchanan at the American Founding: the constitutional political economy of a republic of equals and unequals," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 183(3), pages 389-403, June.
    8. Lisa Herzog, 2017. "No Company is an Island. Sector-Related Responsibilities as Elements of Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 135-148, November.
    9. Lenger Alexander & Goldschmidt Nils, 2011. "Ordnungsökonomik als angewandte Wissenschaft. Zur notwendigen Zusammenführung von Theorie und Praxis / Constitutional Economics as an Applied Social Science. About the Essential Combination of Theory ," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 62(1), pages 343-364, January.
    10. Franck Aggeri & Aurélien Acquier, 2005. "La théorie des stakeholders permet-elle de rendre compte des pratiques d'entreprise en matière de RSE ?," Post-Print halshs-00645708, HAL.
    11. Mause, Karsten, 2019. "Governing Public-Private Partnerships: The Problem of Low-Cost Decisions," EconStor Preprints 209582, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    12. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2006. "Democracy, Citizen Sovereignty and Constitutional Economics," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 06/2, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    13. Jan Schnellenbach, 2015. "Does classical liberalism imply an evolutionary approach to policy-making?," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 53-70, April.
    14. Viktor J. Vanberg, 2009. "Evolving Preferences and Policy Advice in Democratic Society," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-19, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    15. ATM Adnan & Nisar Ahmed, 2019. "The Transformation Of The Corporate Governance Model: A Literature Review," Copernican Journal of Finance & Accounting, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 8(3), pages 7-47.
    16. Haucap, Justus & Loebert, Ina, 2018. "Wettbewerbssituation auf dem Markt für Wetterdienstleistungen," DICE Ordnungspolitische Perspektiven 93, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    17. Amitesh Saha, 2020. "Decision making in Economics -- a behavioral approach," Papers 2012.02968,
    18. Robert Strand, 2015. "Scandinavian Stakeholder Thinking: Seminal Offerings from the Late Juha Näsi," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 89-105, March.
    19. John Meadowcroft, 0. "Buchanan at the American Founding: the constitutional political economy of a republic of equals and unequals," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-15.
    20. Jan Schnellenbach, 2016. "A Constitutional Economics Perspective on Soft Paternalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 135-156, February.

    More about this item


    Corporate social responsibility; Market economy; Constitutional economics; D21; J53; L21;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:18:y:2007:i:3:p:199-222. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.