The boundaries of strategic corporate social responsibility
Geoffrey P. Lantos
Professor of Business Administration, Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts, USA 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.
Introduction 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... [continues]
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