The boundaries of strategic corporate social responsibility

Essay by badfans October 2004

download word file, 76 pages 3.5 1 reviews

Keywords: Corporate strategy, Social responsibility, Roles, Stakeholders, Ethics

Abstract: Reviews the development of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) concept

and its four components: economic, legal, ethical and altruistic duties. Discusses different

perspectives on the proper role of business in society, from profit making to community

service provider. Suggests that much of the confusion and controversy over CSR stem

from a failure to distinguish among ethical, altruistic and strategic forms of CSR. On the

basis of a thorough examination of the arguments for and against altruistic CSR, concurs

with Milton Friedman that altruistic CSR is not a legitimate role of business. Proposes

that ethical CSR, grounded in the concept of ethical duties and responsibilities, is

mandatory. Concludes that strategic CSR is good for business and society. Advises that

marketing take a lead role in strategic CSR activities. Notes difficulties in CSR practice

and offers suggestions for marketers in planning for strategic CSR and for academic

researchers in further clarifying the boundaries of strategic CSR.


It is no news that today's business organizations are expected to exhibit

ethical behavior and moral management. However, over the past half century

the bar has been steadily raised. Now, not only are firms expected to be

virtuous, but also they are being called to practice ``social responsibility'' or

``corporate citizenship''(Carroll, 2000, p. 187), accepting some

accountability for societal welfare. Marketers, as boundary spanners

responsible for the enterprise's dealings with various publics, have a primary

interest in, and should take a major role in, defining and implementing their

firm's social responsibility efforts. Unfortunately, too frequently marketers

still focus solely on their products and markets while neglecting the social

impact of their activities (Flores, 2001).

Perhaps this is because the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR)

is a fuzzy one with unclear boundaries and debatable legitimacy.