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The impact of business on society: exploring CRS adoption and alleged human rights abuses by large corporations


  • Davide Fiaschi
  • Elisa Giuliani


Management research on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focuses almost exclusively on the impact of CSR on profitability or corporate value. A largely neglected question is whether CSR impacts positively on society. We address this gap in the literature by exploring the relationship between CSR adoption (as reflected by corporate declarations to adopt CSR policies) and corporate involvement in alleged human rights abuses. Using information on 140 large advanced country corporations, we find that there is a relationship between CSR and alleged human rights abuses, but that the nature of this relationship varies according to the type of abuse: firms that declare to be CSR-adopters appear less likely to be involved than non-adopters in the worst of the abuses (i.e. jus cogens abuses), but more likely than non-adopters to be involved in other types of "less serious" abuse (i.e. no-jus cogens abuses). Also, over time, the adoption of CSR reduces corporate involvement in direct abuses allegedly committed by management, or by a subsidiary, but not indirect abuses allegedly committed by complicit third parties (e.g. suppliers, clients, etc.). Our analyses contribute to the theory on the impact of business on society and have some normative implications for corporate abuses of human rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Fiaschi & Elisa Giuliani, 2011. "The impact of business on society: exploring CRS adoption and alleged human rights abuses by large corporations," LEM Papers Series 2011/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2011/13

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    Cited by:

    1. Elisa Giuliani, 2016. "Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries’ Industrial Clusters," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 39-54, January.
    2. Elisa Giuliani & Chiara Macchi, 2014. "Multinational corporations’ economic and human rights impacts on developing countries: a review and research agenda," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 479-517.

    More about this item


    Corporate Social Responsibility; Alleged Human Rights Abuses; Panel Data.;

    JEL classification:

    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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