What Is the Social Responsibility of Corporate Management?

Topics: Capitalism, Social responsibility, Corporate social responsibility Pages: 8 (2780 words) Published: June 7, 2013
A relevant amount of literature regarding social responsibility of corporate management, mainly articles and academic publications, has been produced in the last decades. Depending on the source, however, different understandings, approaches, and interpretations stand out clearly. The web is also rich of material that, while at a first impression may seem “marketing” oriented, is often directly related to the widely disputed concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Within this considerable mass of data arises, first of all, the lack of an agreed basic definition of what CSR means. Some of the numerous characterizations collected among several sources are the following: -“Corporate Social Responsibility is about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society” ; -“Corporate Social Responsibility is about helping to meet people’s needs” ; -Corporate Social Responsibility is “Operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business” ; -Corporate Social Responsibility is “The responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society” ; -“Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large” ; The last of these definitions, established in 1998 on behalf of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), tries capturing several regional perspectives that emerged during its development: -“CSR is about taking personal responsibility for your actions and the impacts that you have on society. Companies and employees must undergo a personal transformation, re-examine their roles, their responsibilities and increase their level of accountability (USA); -“CSR is about making a leadership commitment to core values and recognizing local and cultural differences when implementing global policies. It’s about companies endorsing the UN Convention on Human Rights and the ILO Rights at Work” (The Netherland); -“CSR is the contribution to the development of natural and human capital, in addition to just making a profit” (Taiwan); -“CSR is about business giving back to society” (The Philippines); -“CSR must be locally relevant and meaningful only if backed up action” (Thailand); -“CSR is about commitment to strive for the best economic development for the community, to respect workers and build their capacities, to protect the environment and to help create frameworks where ethical business can prosper” (Brazil); -“CSR is about a corporation’s ability to respond to social challenges. It starts with developing good relations with neighbours. Companies should make a strong commitment to education, worker rights, capacity building, and job security. CSR is stimulating the economic development of a community” (Argentina); -“CSR is about capacity building for sustainable livelihoods. It respects cultural differences and finds the business opportunities in building the skills of employees, the community and the government” (Ghana). Clearly, around the world and among different societies and industries CSR is perceived in different ways. In absence of a universal common understanding of what CSR means, however, the most captivating definition is probably the following: -“The term is a brilliant one, it means something, but not always the same for everybody” . Whereas the semantic of the issue is unclear, there is no doubt that the argument, although not new, remains a hot one. It has been approached from different directions and with increasing attention in the last years. While the ideological debate between capitalism and socialism faded, after the failure of the soviet model, toward a more pragmatic discussion on welfare state, social responsibility of...
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