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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."
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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

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    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(01), pages 23-49, June.
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    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. 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.
    3. Schnellenbach, Jan, 2014. "Neuer Paternalismus und individuelle Rationalität: eine ordnungsökonomische Perspektive," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/08, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    4. 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..
    5. Shigeki Kusunoki, 2016. "Hayek on corporate social responsibility," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 93-110, March.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    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. 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..
    11. Borella, Sara, 2008. "EU-Migrationspolitik: Bremse statt Motor der Liberalisierung," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 08/10, 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..

    More about this item


    Corporate social responsibility; Market economy; Constitutional economics; D21; J53; L21;

    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


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