Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe: Analyzing Business in Transnational Contexts
Ever since the European Commission (EC) defined what “corporate social responsibility” is, European debate has taken up the definition as given. However a brief review of literature soon highlights that the adopted definition has given rise to some relevant concerns and is not without its critics. These criticisms might relate to the fact that literature on the issue is mainly produced by American scholars, and does not completely match European needs. Following this hypothesis, one can argue that the “new” EC definition is, in fact, an old one. However, the point which seems to have been missed revolves around certain contextual differences, it is this point which this paper aims to shed light on. The aim of this contribution is to suggest the right tools with which to take diversities into account, in order to reach a definition that allows thought on corporate social responsibility to be a dynamic concept. How can we consider CSR in different contexts? Do we need to define it differently in relation to each context or does it have a general (common) meaning? The model here presented is based on two standard economic variables (size and sector) on the corporate side, and on three variables (socio-cultural, economic structure, and institutional) on the country-specific side. The result of the matrix gives a new way to define CSR in different contexts and suggests that location is the important issue, neglected both in the EC’s and in the scholars’ approaches. Key words: corporate social responsibility, stakeholder approach, European Commission, CSR modeling
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