Corporate Responsibility

Knowledge Center

Summary, forum, best practices, expert tips and information sources.

238 items • 221.054 visits



Corporate (Social) ResponsibilityCorporate Responsibility? Meaning.

Corporate Social Responsibility ("CSR") is a form of corporate (self-) regulation integrated into a business model.

A CSR policies function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with these policies, in addition to upholding the (spirit of) the law, ethical standards, and international norms.


Purpose of Corporate Responsibility

The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company's actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere.

Furthermore, CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality.

CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making, and the honoring of a Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, profit.


Origin of Corporate Social Responsibility. History

A survey on the history of CSR reveals evidence of CSR as early as the 1800s, mainly in the form of donations by companies (Sethi, 1977), although Barnard. C., (1938) ‘The Functions of the Executive’, Clark. J., (1939) ‘Social Control of Business’, and Kreps. T., (1940) ‘Measurement of the Social Performance of Business’, specifically addressed the subject of CSR, which are quite commonly used foundations for CSR theories

In-depth notion of the CSR concept is found in 1953, where the economist Bowen addressed the topic in his book ‘Social Responsibilities of the Business Men’. Bowen argues that “entrepreneurs have the responsibility to orientate on expectations, aims and values of a society”, creating the bridge to expansion of the corporate purpose beyond economic growth.

Walton, C. (1967) addressed a more detailed CSR concept in which companies needed to voluntarily acknowledge and accept that their responsibilities exceeded the corporate barriers and that cost are involved. These theories find correlation with the Committee for Economic Development (CED) presented ‘code of conduct’ (1971) that outlined a three-leveled model for CSR. This model demonstrates the interdependency of corporations and their community in relation to profit creation.

The term "corporate social responsibility" came in to common use in the early 1970s. During this period many multinational corporations (MNC’s) acknowledged the term stakeholders, (signifying those affected by an organization's activities), to describe corporate beneficiaries beyond shareholders. This was partly driven by the influential book by R. Edward Freeman, Strategic Management: a Stakeholder Approach (1984).


Proponents argue that corporations make more long term profits by operating with a perspective, while critics argue that CSR distracts from the economic role of businesses.

Others argue CSR is merely window-dressing, or an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations.


The latter is imaginable when economies permits companies to have revenues eclipsing various midsize countries GDP’s, leading to assumptions that great forms of (corporate) wealth should shoulder similar responsibilities, hence solving issues not necessarily inherent to these company’s activities.

Often, under-developed or emerging countries, with less influence on large organization, are faced with dilemma’s to enforce social behavior on corporations, as Newell (2000, p. 121) signified that, “… frequently the presence of large transnational corporations appear to wield powers without responsibility, [and that] they are often as powerful as states and yet unaccountable”.

Because of fear to loose these companies, governments become reluctant to irresponsible corporate behavior, “partly due to their fear that such regulations will discourage domestic investment and make their economies less competitive” (Lipschutz, 2005). Hertz, (2002) and Monbiot, (2001) brand these phenomenon’s as ”… the silent take-over of government by corporations, [resulting in the] excessive dependency of governments upon big business”.

Occasionally in such situations, public’s demands, frequently voiced by various groups e.g. NGO’s, stakeholders, governments, etc. are capable to sink a companies reputation, its products, and if not addressed in time, its liveability!
Companies are required to stay within the rules and guidelines opposed upon them through legislation and (self) regulations, nevertheless, society may still prosecute them when they exercise these rules to their own advantage and benefit substantially.

Companies initially did not embraced CSR voluntarily, many did not even realize various public issues as there responsibility, i.e. “Pharmaceutical companies discovered that they were expected to respond to the AIDS pandemic in Africa, even though it was distant from their primary product lines and markets” (Porter & Kramer, 2006).

The first company that published a social report was Ben and Jerry’s (1989) followed by Shell as the first major company in 1998 (corporate watch, 2006). Shell followed mainly because of the 1995 ‘Brent Spar’ debacle. The mentioning of Shell marks a remarkable moment, because Shell recognized its mistake in the management of its Corporate Responsibility and incorporated these lessons by CSR throughout its organization and started reporting these. This action helped “institutionalize” (Zadek, 2004, p.12) legislation and self-regulation in its industry.

Today there are various rating agencies which track and report corporations’ social behavior, e.g.; The Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE4Good Index, etc. The rating criteria’s vary widely and have become meaningless since there is no standard. Although, the ‘Global Reporting Initiative’, have a high likeability to become the global standard soon.

ISO 26000 is the recognized international standard for CSR (currently a Draft International Standard). Public sector organizations (the United Nations for example) adhere to the triple bottom line (TBL).

It is widely accepted that CSR adheres to similar principles but with no formal act of legislation. The UN has developed the Principles for Responsible Investment as guidelines for investing entities.

Advantages of Corporate Social Responsibility. Benefits

  • Discourages government regulation
  • Stimulates long-term orientation and profits for business
  • Balances corporate power with responsibility
  • Improves relationships with stakeholders
  • Improves corporate reputation

Disadvantages of Corporate Social Responsibility. Drawbacks

  • Decreases economic efficiency and financial returns
  • Interferes with equal competition between firms
  • Imposes hidden costs and passes them on to (financial) stakeholders
  • Places responsibility on businesses rather than on individuals
  • Results in non-core activities by firms (better left to others)

Two main visions underlying Corporate Social Responsibility

Supporters of a Regulation-based Approach argue that:

  • Corporations care little for the welfare of workers, and given the opportunity will move production to sweatshops in less well regulated countries.

  • Unchecked, companies will squander scarce resources.

  • Companies do not pay the full costs of their impact. For example the costs of cleaning pollution often fall on society in general. As a result, profits of corporations are enhanced at the expense of social or ecological welfare. Note that recent environmental legislation increases the range of risks and responsibilities for companies. To protect themselves against losses from environmental hazards, companies can consider Environmental Insurance.

  • Regulation is the best way to ensure that companies remain socially responsible.

Supporters of a more Market-based Approach argue that:

  • Free markets and capitalism have been at the centre of economic and social development over the past two hundred years and that improvements in health, longevity or infant mortality (for example) have only been possible because economies (driven by free enterprise) have progressed.

  • In order to attract quality workers, it is necessary for companies to offer better pay and conditions which leads to an overall rise in standards and to wealth creation.

  • Investment in less developed countries contributes to the welfare of those societies, notwithstanding that these countries have fewer protections in place for workers.

  • Failure to invest in these countries decreases the opportunity to increase social welfare.

  • Free markets contribute to the effective management of scarce resources. The prices of many commodities have fallen in recent years. This contradicts the notion of scarcity, and may be attributed to improvements in technology leading to the more efficient use of resources.

  • There may indeed be occasions when externalities, such as the costs of pollution are not built into normal market prices in a free market. In these circumstances, regulatory intervention is possible to redress the balance, to ensure that costs and benefits are correctly aligned.

  • Whilst regulation is necessary in certain circumstances, over regulation creates barriers to entry into a market. These barriers increase the opportunities for excess profits, to the delight of the market participants, but do little to serve the interests of society as a whole.

On balance, the concept is strongly related to other concepts such as Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Transparency, Corporate Accountability, and Corporate Governance.

Also called (Corporate) Social Responsibility, corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, corporate social performance, and sustainable responsible business.

Special Interest Group

Corporate Responsibility Special Interest Group.

Special Interest Group (211 members)


Forum about Corporate Responsibility. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

Start a new topic about Corporate Responsibility


Align CSR with Corporate Purpose and Values
As argued by Rangan et al. (2015), CSR should not be designed to deliver business results. In contrast, companies should align their social and environmental activities with their business purpose and...
Unethical Behavior and Child Labor in Supply Chains: Willful Ignorance
Even though many organizations claim to comply to strict policies with regard to human rights such as child labor, a report by Amnesty International has revealed that still a lot of technology compani...
Tips for Starting an Ethical Business or Social Enterprise
A big advantage of starting an ethical business is that people tend to be positive about what you do. After all, you are by definition commercializing strategies to improve human and environmental wel...
Is Acting Selflessly Required for Social Responsibility?
Does a company have to act selflessly to be considered socially responsible?...
Moving CSR from a Business Case to a Development Tool
CSR practices and their effectiveness vary across regions and localities. The mainstream CSR agenda still seems to neglect these differences and can be cri...
Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility (Caroll)
An early and widely applied CSR framework that distinguishes "CSR layers" is the Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility by Caroll (1991). The 4 layers of Responsibilities are, from bottom to top:<...
Examples of Truly Putting CSR Into Practice
A well-known quote used by among others Hillary Clinton, Reagan and Eisenhower is: 'We are great because we are good'. It means that a country's performance in this global world is derived and judged ...
Potential Corporate Social Responsibility Focus Areas
Government, Corporations and People need to work together. Responsibility to who? Our neighbors, community, city, province/state, country, WORLD!
Here are some CSR focus areas to consider:
Reasons for Corporate Responsibility
It's really important one understands the reasons for CSR. What really matters are the stakeholders and customer perceptions about these underlying reason(s) for CSR.
If the CSR activities of a c...
How to Measure the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
If we keep in mind the Four Stages of CSR-implementation by Martinuzzi and Krumay (With a CSR-scope moving from Project ⇒ Quality ⇒ Strategic ⇒ Transformational), that makes me wonde...
Legal and Tax Strategies to Support Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives
CSR is also about dynamic innovation... One such aspect I was wondering is - could there be any innovation on the finance side - in general at least in emerging economies. The funding for the social s...
Company Social-Economic Responsibility (CSER)
The raison d´etre of an Organization is to CREATE VALUE:
- MVA (Market Value Added,
- EVA (Economical Value added) and
- HVA (Human Value added)
To comply with all the stakeholders...

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Corporate Responsibility. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

NEW Corporate Responsibility: Different for Large and Small Firms?
There is an ongoing debate:
"Should small companies be equally held responsible as conglomerates, in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Why or why not?"
⇒ What would be yo...

Stages of Corporate Social Responsibility
According to Kreitner (2009), there are FOUR STRATEGIES for responding to social responsibility that companies can utilize (p.124). Beginning with the least responsibility and moving toward the greate...

Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility
The Panama Papers showed that tax avoidance takes place on a large scale. Taxation strategies of some large MNE’s involve aggressive tax planning, including trans...

CSR Communication Should Be More Impactful
While the notion of CSR has become mainstream and its benefits have been demonstrated to win over employees and shareholders, the communication of th...

Corporate Responsibility versus Porter's Shared Value
Crane et al. (2014) recently argue that ‘Created Shared Value’ (CSV)' is a subject (part) of the Corporate Responsibility (CSR) concept.
This is opposed to Porter and Kramer’s (1999; 2002; 2006; ...

Marketing of Corporate Responsibility Efforts
CSR has become both a strategic approach through which competitive advantages can be created as well as overall social benefits. Due to the increased awareness among conscious consumers of social and ...

The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Employee Engagement
Hi I am currently doing my dissertation for my MBA. The topic of my dissertation is the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on employee's engagement.
The research on Malaysian employee'...

The Meaning of Sustainability as Perceived by Consumers
A pending study reveals that the meaning of the word "Sustainability" is perceived differently by mainstream consumers compared to experts and practitioners.
As argued by Fitzgerald (2014), "… th...

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Corporate Responsibility. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

Ways to Set Up a Powerful CSR Program

Setting up a Corporate Social Responsibility Program
In an article, Lain Hensley (2014) described five approaches to successfully create authentic, powerful CSR programs: ...

Corporate Responsibility Areas Checklist

Corporate Responsibility Check
According to Mark Daniel, if your company's approach to corporate responsibility is not the right one, you will not insp...

Functional and Corporate Types of Corporate Responsibility Initiatives

CSR Types, CSR Mechanisms
Corporate Responsibility (CR) Initiatives are related to what an organization wants to achieve with their CR activities....

Corporate Foundations versus Normal Foundations

Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Foundations
Due to increased awareness of the social and environmental effects of economic and other activities (among other reasons...

Consumer Skepticism About CSR Motives of Companies

CSR Skepticism, Consumer View towards CSR
Businesses nowadays monitor and measure risks to which they are exposed to. One of these risks relate to organizational ...

Where Corporate Responsibility Begins and Ends

Boundaries of Corporate Responsibility
Where should your efforts to be or be perceived as a responsible corporation start, and where should they stop? In other...

The Role of CSR in the Public Function of Commercial Banks

CSR at Banks, Public Function of Banks, Stakeholder Management at Banks
A widely shared point of view is that banks should create long term shareholder value and also have a public function. T...

4 Levers to Pursue a Dual Corporate Purpose

CSR, Impact on Society, Balancing Financial and Social Goals, Dual Purpose
These is a slow but steadily increasing trend for corporations to diminish their single-minded pursuit of shareholder va...

Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Standards

Businesses, auditors, stakeholders and other institutions favor different reporting standards, and whereas financial rep...

Two Imperatives on Corporate Social Responsibility

Understanding the Foundations of CSR, Trainings and Workshops
In the past decades there has been increased pressure on companies to incorporate CSR in their businesses. In fact, the...

How to Develop a Coherent and Coordinated CSR Program

CSR Alignment, CSR Strategy, CSR Coordination, CSR Theaters
Although many organizations nowadays at least have some form of CSR to contribute to the well-being of society and/or th...

CSR and Ethical Business Practices

Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics, Ethical Business Practices
Mason and Simmons (2013) argue that one should differentiate between the external drivers of CSR and the organizational ...

Corporate Responsibility Committee

Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability, Strategic Innovation, Corporate Governance
Even if the interest for and significance of Corporate (Social) Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Sustainability (CS) h...

Moral Intensity: When Will a Decision Be Seen as Unethical?

Risk Management, Business Ethics, Ethical Decision-making, Crisis Management, Corporate Responsibility
The financial crisis of 2008 has been partly the result of managers and executives taking excessive risks. That's why Fe...

Reasons Why People are Doing Voluntary Work

Expectancy Theory, Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Perspective, Volunteers
Voluntary work has long been seen as an activity performed mainly by unemployed individuals –mostly women, both in their...

How to Design a Large CSR Program that Works

CSR, Shared Value, Public-Private Partnerships, Poverty Reduction, Combating Global Inequality
A study by Kaplan, Serafeim & Tugendhat (2018) finds that most corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs they analy...

How to Inject Corporate Purpose Into Corporate Governance

Enacting Purpose, Organizational Purpose Implementation, Corporate Sustainability, ESG, SCORE Framework
Many models and frameworks have been created wrt Corporate Responsibility and ESG. But how can you actually make it happ...

Strategies for Strategic Philanthropy (Norton)

Strategic Philanthropy, Corporate Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Customer Loyalty
A lot of companies are trying to use philanthropic activities to improve factors as customer loyalty and brand awareness...

Three Dimensions in How Global Brands are Evaluated by Consumers

Global Branding, Corporate Reputation, CSR, Globalization
Holt et al. (2004) researched how people evaluate and value global brands. They found out that 3 main characteristics ar...

Putting Purpose at the Core of Strategy Works

Strategy, CSR, Stakeholder Management
IMD Professor Malnight A. O. Presented results of 8 years of study on high growth in companies, initially considering 3 ...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Corporate Responsibility. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Strategy, Society and CSR

CSR Strategy, Competitive Advantage, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility, Strategy and Society
Presentation about the relationship between CSR and Competitive Advantage. It includes the following sections: - Busine...

Exceptional Speech by 13 year-old Severn Suzuki at the UN, 2008 on Environmental and Social Responsibility

Environmental Responsibility, Social Responsibility
At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 2008, a 13 years old child, speaking for ECO, the Enviro...

Creating Triple Bottom Line Awareness: An Introduction

Triple Bottom Line, Corporate Sustainability
This presentation elaborates on the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. The presentation has many interesting slides with...

The Purpose of Business: Stockholder versus Stakeholder Theories

Stakeholder Analysis; Stakeholder Commitment
This presentation elaborates on the objectives and purposes of businesses according to different views: those of stockho...

Corporate Social Responsibility Best Practices

CSR, Responsible Business, CSR Introduction, CSR Summary
This presentation by Dr. Uwen E. Ite is about Sustainable Corporate Responsibility and its best practices. The presentat...

Caroll's Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility Levels, Corporate Social Responsibility Hierarchy, Corporate Social Responsibility Pyram
An important contributor to Corporate Social Responsibility Theory is Carroll (1991) who recognized that profitability s...

CSR Implementation and Communication Model (Schmeltz)

CSR Communication, CSR Implementation, CSR Strategy, Corporate Identity, Corporate Values, CSR Stages,
Because Corporate Social Responsibility is a value-based concept, it is highly connected with an organization’s values a...

Corporate Social Responsibility Activities and Their Effects on Employees' Engagement

CSR, Employee Engagement
ABSTRACT - Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a rapidly growing field of attention for corporations keen to succee...

Martin's Trust Model: The Trust Matrix

Trust, Corporate Reputation, Corporate Branding, Corporate Image
An important determinant of the reputation of your brand, company or sector is TRUST. In the financial sector for exampl...

Traditional Investing, Philanthropy and Impact Investing

Impact Investments, Social Investing, Universities
This presentation is about impact investing, particularly about universities becoming impact investors: 1. Impact beyon...

Design Thinking for Innovation

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Design Thinking, CSR, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation
This presentation is about design thinking and the connection to social entrepreneurship. The presentation includes the ...

Pursuing Corporate Responsiblity Through Fair Trade

Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability, Fair Trade
Presentation about Fair Trade, one of the many forms of Corporate Social Responsibility and achieving Sustainability. Th...

Philanthropy as a Strategy

Strategic Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Marketing Strategy
This presentation elaborates on the concept of strategic philanthropy and includes the following sections: 1. Strategic...

Introduction to Business Ethics. Concept Overview

Business Ethics, Ethics in Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Code of Ethics, Unethical Business Practices
This presentation is about ethics in business, and includes the following sections: 1. Introduction 2. Question 3. Bu...

The Dawn of Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism, Value-driven Consumer, Socially Responsible Investing, Corporate Responsibility
This presentation provides an introduction into the concept of conscious capitalism, and includes the following sections...

Introduction to Collective Impact

Initial Understanding of Collective Impact
Collective Impact is about diverse companies and across sectors are coming together to solve a complex social problem. T...

Social Impact of Investments: Impact Investing and Impact Rating

Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Socially Responsible Investing
This presentation is about impact investing, and includes the following sections: 1. Learning objectives 2. Why impact...

CSR and Ethics

Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Responsibility, CSR, Ethics, Responsible Business
This presentation is about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Ethics. The presentation starts with elaborating on...

Why is Corporate Social Responsibility becoming more important?

Importance of CSR, CSR Introduction, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR Strategy
William Marré explains that historically, companies have been reluctant to move into CSR in a bold way. It was mere...

Fundamentals of Business Ethics

Business Ethics, Corporate Ethics, Ethical Behavior, Corporate Responsibility, Stakeholder Management
Presentation about business ethics, including an explanation of its relation with economics and the law. It also include...

Nestlé Chairman on Shared Value

Best Practice How to Implement Creating Shared Value
Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe says that the concept of Creating Shared Value has evolved out of the idea of cor...

Consumer Power in Developing versus Developed Countries

Responsible Business, Customer Interests, Educated Consumers, Customer Awareness
This presentation provides a comparison between developed and developing countries in terms of customer awareness and in...

Voluntary Activities of Employees | Employee Volunteerism

Employee Motivation, Employee Volunteerism, Employee Commitment, Shared Value, CSR, Corporate Reputation
Presentation about employee volunteerism, including the following sections: 1. What is employee volunteerism 2. Employ...

Introduction Into Welfarenomics

This presentation elaborates on the concept of welfarenomics. The presentation includes the following sections; 1. Cont...

Creating Inclusive Business Models

Business Models, Corporate Sustainability, International Development, Investing in Africa
Presentation that provides an introduction into inclusive business models, especially focusing on (agri) businesses in ...

CSR in the Public Sector

CSR, Public Sector
CSR for Central Public Enterprises Presentation about CSR in Central Public Enterprises, including the following sectio...

Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility

Understanding CSR
Corporate Social Responsibility, also named Sustainable Business, Community Investment, Cause Marketing, or even Triple ...

A Consumer Perspective of Cause Related Marketing

Initial Understanding of Cause Marketing
Delanie Nielsen explains that for consumers not only the price, quality, brand loyalty determine the purchases they make...

Research Links

Jump to further research sources regarding Corporate Responsibility.













Compare also: Shareholder Value Perspective  |  Stakeholder Value Perspective  |  Triple Bottom Line  |  Stakeholder Mapping  |  Stakeholder Analysis  |  Public Relations  |  Non-Governmental Organization  |  Whistle Blower  |  Globalization

Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Corporate Responsibility? Become our SIG Leader and gain worldwide recognition as an expert.


Return to Management Hub: Communication & Skills  |  Ethics & Responsibility  |  Finance & Investing  |  Human Resources  |  Marketing & Sales  |  Strategy & Innovation

More on Management  |  Return to Management Dictionary


This ends our Corporate Responsibility summary and forum.

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 21-3-2023. All names ™ of their owners.