behavior of individual companies, it has left intact the fundamental values and systems: “In so far as the poor and marginalized share values that complement those universalized through globalization, there is a possibility for them to benefit from CSR” (Blowfield, 2005, p. 522). Problems arise, however, when the values diverge and systemic change is called for, since individual corporations cannot address the issue.
Bakan (2004) calls the corporation a pathological institution that follows its own interest regardless of the negative consequence created for others. CSR might lead to something good, but it cannot change this fundamental problem. Just as we need laws to protect us against murder and theft, we need laws to protect us against corporations – the institutionalized psychopaths that have no moral conviction but possess motives and power to create a lot of damage.
Still, we would like to argue that if the premise is that society wants to keep the business institution, we have to discuss CSR and recognize that CSR at least has an ethical potential. Currently, however, the following sentiment seems true: “CSR can work, for some people, in some places, on some issues, some of the time” (Newell,
2005, p. 556). Thus, there is a need to approach CSR in a way that is “simultaneously skeptical and embracing” (Devinney, 2009, p. 54).
Importantly, whatever position one takes on CSR, agreeing with the critics or not, we argue that communication plays a vital role. This holds, whether the researcher’s purpose is critical – to point to shortcomings or unmask manipulation – or whether it is instrumental, as in seeking to help corporations improve their CSR communication. As will be illustrated throughout this volume, contributors vary in the extent to which they identify with the needs of corporations or not.
The Importance of Communication... [continues]
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