This first chapter aims to present our subject in focus; Corporate Social Responsibility. The
background is followed by a problem discussion, which in turn will lead us to the purpose of this
study. The purpose is broken down into three research questions. Thereafter the scope of the
thesis and central concept are described, and finally a disposition is presented.
"CSR is like motherhood and apple pie. Everybody is for it; who wants to make the case for
companies becoming more unjust, unfair and irresponsible?" (Hutton, 2000:2).
Traditionally the main purpose of business has been to achieve profitability by
providing consumers with goods and services. In 1776, Adam Smith published
"The Wealth of Nations" and observed that people enjoy their daily bread not
thanks to the benevolence of their baker, but to the baker's selfish pursuit of
making profit. His economic theory of 'the invisible hand' states that the
aggregated behaviour of people serves the public good better than any social
planner could ever do (Henderson, 2002).
Today, however, the question of whether companies should shoulder a greater
social responsibility is widely debated and there is a widespread support for the
concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the business world.
According to the concept of CSR, a company should focus on other values than
profitability and efficiency and therefore take greater responsibility for the
societal and environmental consequences of their activities. Hence, a company's
license to operate and grow is no longer seen exclusively in terms of maximising
profits (Kaptein & Van Tulder, 2003). Embedding an organisation in society - in
a sustainable manner - has become a condition for continuity and growth.
Companies establish CSR as part of their mission and core values in response to
emerging issues from within the organisation while other...