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CSR Needs CPR: Corporate Sustainability and Politics


  • Thomas Lyon

    (University of Michigan [Ann Arbor] - University of Michigan System)

  • Magali Delmas

    () (Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA - UCLA - University of California [Los Angeles] - University of California)

  • John W. Maxwell

    (Indiana University System)

  • Pratima Bansal

    (Ivey Business School at Western University, London, Ontario)

  • Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline

    () (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, UP1 - Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Pres Hesam)

  • Patricia Crifo

    (EconomiX - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre)

  • Rodophe Durand

    (HEC Paris - Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales)

  • Jean-Pascal Gond

    () (Cass Business School - City University London - City University London)

  • Andrew King

    () (Tuck School of Business - Dartmouth College [Hanover])

  • Michael Lenox

    (Darden School of Business)

  • Michael Toffel

    (Harvard Business School - Harvard University [Cambridge])

  • David Vogel

    (LBNL - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory [Berkeley])

  • Frank Wijen

    (Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University - Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University)


Corporate social responsibility has gone mainstream, and many companies have taken meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future. Yet global environmental indicators continue to worsen, and individual corporate efforts may be hitting the point of diminishing returns. Voluntary action by the private sector is not a panacea-regulatory action by the public sector remains necessary. Such public sector progress will be more likely if it is supported by influential segments of the business community. Recent court rulings in the U.S. make it easy for companies to hide their political activities from the public, yet the indicators of CSR used by ratings agencies and socially responsible investment funds mostly ignore corporate political action. We argue that it is time for CSR metrics to be expanded to critically assess and evaluate firms based on the sustainability impacts of their public policy positions. To enable such assessments, firms need to become as transparent about their political activity as many have become about their CSR efforts, and CSR rating services and ethical investment funds need to demand such information from firms and include an assessment of corporate political activity in their ratings. † We thank the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation for their generous financial support.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Lyon & Magali Delmas & John W. Maxwell & Pratima Bansal & Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline & Patricia Crifo & Rodophe Durand & Jean-Pascal Gond & Andrew King & Michael Lenox & Michael Toffel & David, 2018. "CSR Needs CPR: Corporate Sustainability and Politics," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-01846042, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-01846042
    DOI: 10.1177/0008125618778854
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Nave & João Ferreira, 2019. "Corporate social responsibility strategies: Past research and future challenges," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 26(4), pages 885-901, July.
    2. Hollis A. Skaife & Timothy Werner, 2020. "Changes in Firms’ Political Investment Opportunities, Managerial Accountability, and Reputational Risk," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 163(2), pages 239-263, May.
    3. Shon R. Hiatt & W. Chad Carlos, 2019. "From farms to fuel tanks: Stakeholder framing contests and entrepreneurship in the emergent U.S. biodiesel market," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(6), pages 865-893, June.

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