Individual Integrative Paper- ORGS 5100.3S
A Critical Review of Corporate Social Responsibility- The Niger Delta Business Case Judith Idemudia
ABSTRACT This paper contains a critical review of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is one of strategy being adopted by businesses to address some of the challenges they confront in their external environment. This paper examines various arguments from proponents and critics of CSR. In addition, this paper examines the case of oil Multinational in Nigeria as way of ascertaining the validity of the different positions in the CSR debate.
Historical evidence suggests that societal concerns for businesses to have social obligations are not new and that such concerns have continually ebbed and flowed at various times (Camilla, 1991). John & Saks (2011) agree that societal concerns are one of the components of the external environment faced by corporations that should not be ignored. However, the latest manifestation of these societal concerns in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) appears to defy conventional patterns. This is because CSR has increasingly become an essential part of doing business in today’s globalized and competitive environment. Yet, the concept of CSR lacks a consensual definition and remains a contested concept (Devinney, 2009). Hence, the tendency in the literature has been to define CSR in different ways that often reflect the interest of the person who is defining the concept (see Devinney, 2009). Consequently, critics like Devinney (2009) have suggested that this lack of a consensual definition for CSR poses a major conceptual and analytical weakness. Others like Buccholz (1991) has also argued that CSR is more of a doctrine than a serious theory as the concept is unclear, as it does not provide any guidance for managerial decision. In contrast, CSR proponents point out that the absence of a consensual definition does not prevent advocates of CSR from having a common ground. This common ground lies in the rejection of enforceable obligation as the only basis of corporate responsibility to society (Walton, 1967). Besides, CSR proponents point out that while CSR might be an open-ended concept, what is required of the corporation is not for business to tell society what is good for society. Rather, what is required is for business to convince its numerous stakeholders that within its power (however limited it might be), it has not ignored their interest (however, outrageous they may seem) (Chamberlin,
1973). Hence, this paper adopts Van Marrewijk's (2003) CSR definition that sees CSR as a company’s activities, voluntary by nature, that demonstrate the inclusion of social and environmental concerns into its business operations and in its interactions with stakeholders. While the debate over CSR has largely taken a controversial form (see Devinney, 2009), a majority of firms now adopt commitment to CSR principles and practices. These firms are adopting CSR principles via their corporate code of conducts, in their mission statements and by signing up to international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact. This widespread adoption of CSR by the business community has been attributed to a number of factors and actors that include but are not limited to governmental failure, the process of globalization, the need to avoid government regulations, revolution in information technology, stakeholder activism, changing societal values and expectations, non-governmental organization (NGOs), intergovernmental organization activism, consumer awareness and a growing concern for the environment (Cuilla, 1992; Jenkins, 2005). These different drivers of CSR has meant that businesses especially Multinational Corporations (MNCs) are now expected to understand and develop strategies for dealing with their market and non- market environment if they are to secure both...