The idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged in the recent decades as a point of discussion within the business world. Some advocate for it, while others are adamantly opposed to the idea. It is a type of corporate self-regulation that is supposed to be built into the business model of companies as a way of ensuring that these businesses adhere to the law, ethical social standards and international business norms. Under this model, businesses are accountable to themselves for the consequences of their actions on the environment, their employees, their customers, the stakeholders and the community. Essentially CSR promotes accountability of the company to the public. Additionally, CSR calls on companies to be proactive in their promotion of the public interest as it voluntarily includes the public interest in considerations of business. It pays respect to the new triple bottom line which, in addition to profit, is also concerned with people and planet.
The implementation of CSR might sound like a good idea at first glance, but it has become a topic of much debate and criticism. Those who advocate for it argue that companies will in fact benefit from implementing CSR policies, while critics contend that CSR takes away from the main purpose of business, while others argue that social responsibility should not be the responsibility of business but of government to regulate business (businesses should not have the option of being socially responsible, governments should force them to be through law, thus removing the option' from companies).
[...] governments, and companies must stop thinking in terms of corporate social responsibility and start thinking in terms of corporate social integration.” (Porter and Kramer, 2006:13). As can be seen, these two authors are very much in favor of CSR, but they argue it must be given a more relevant approach, as the approach that many are making businesses take are flawed and not doing a service to society or the greater economy. There are other sides of the debate on CSR, particularly that of Robert Reich which he put forth in his paper Responsible Capitalism and Democracy. [...]
[...] Michael Porter and Mark Kramer are authors of The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. In this article they advocate in favor of CSR, but they give a unique approach to the issue. The authors note how CSR has become more prevalent in the world of business, but in many ways it has been regarded in the wrong ways, and therefore they have not been as effective as they possibly could be. This is the case for two reasons: they force business to be pitted against society when the two are necessarily interdependent, and they have the tendency to view CSR in generic ways as opposed to ways that make the most sense for individual firms. [...]
[...] This results in politicians levying praise or condemnation at companies for the way they do business (whether or not they adhere to principles of CSR), but this “praise and blame are disconnected from any laws and rules defining responsible behavior. The message that companies are moral beings with social responsibilities diverts public attention from the task of establishing such laws and rules in the first place.” (Reich, 2008). What he is saying is that our notions of CSR are flawed because they place the responsibility of being socially responsible on the companies when it should really be placed on the (democratic and accountable) governments. [...]
[...] Corporate Social Responsibility An Implementation Guide for Business. International Institute for Sustainable Development. Accessed from http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2007/csr_guide.pdf This source is useful because it gives a broad overview of why CSR is beneficial to business. Many people are led to believe that CSR cannot be beneficial to both the public and business at the same time, but this report negates that assumption and provides an argument in favour of CSR for businesses. Porter, M. and Kramer, M. (2006). Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Responsibility,” Harvard Business Review. [...]
[...] Finally, the implementation of principles of CSR by companies gives them greater access to capital, improved relations with regulators and can serve as a catalyst for responsible consumption. (Burke, 2005). It is clear that the needs of business can be advanced through implementing policies of CSR, and therefore it should be done. This essay has further examined the issue by asking how corporations, consumer/citizen groups or governments are trying to respond to increasing calls to make business more socially responsible. [...]
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