Should an organisations engage in CSR?

Essay by ihindawiUniversity, Master's October 2004

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The concept of CSR is complicated and, contested and unclear boundaries (Lantos, 2001; Moon, 2002). The scope of SCR is wide and difficult to define (Hemingway, 2002).

The purpose of this essay is to clarify the concept of CSR by reviewing the different viewpoints of the business role in society from economic, ethical, altruistic and strategic. Concludes that strategic CSR is good for business & society.

Defining CSR

"An organization's obligation to maximize its positive impact and minimize its negative effects in being a contributing member to society, with concern for society's long-run needs and wants. CSR means being a good steward of society's economic and human resources" (Lantos, 2001). Similarly, Wood (Wood 1991 cited in Moir, 2001) stated that "the basic idea of corporate social responsibility is that business and society are interwoven rather than distinct entities" and Cannon (1992, cited in Moir, 2001) quoted Lord Sieff, the former chairman of Marks & Spenser plc "Business only contributes fully to a society if it is efficient, profitable and socially responsible".

Carroll (1979, cited in Carroll, 2000) provided a definition of CSR is still relevant today, the 4-part definition held that corporation have 4 responsibilities to fulfil in society: economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic (which is called altruistic by Lantos).

Clarifying the concept of CSR

Some say business has economic responsibility to make profit while obeying the law (economic CSR), others say corporate management should be sensitive to social impact of their decision and the potential effect to stakeholders (ethical CSR) and others want corporations involved in social activities even if it costs them money (altruistic CSR) (Lantos, 2001).

Economic CSR (The pure profit making view)

The purpose of business is to produce product at a profit within the accepted rules despite the low standards of ethics, i.e. economics...