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Post: Business and Society 10e
Business and Society: Corporate Strategy, Public Policy, Ethics, 10/e
James Post, Boston University
Anne T Lawrence, San Jose State University
James Weber, Duquesne University

Corporate Social Responsibility

Chapter Summary

  • Corporate social responsibility means that a corporation should be held accountable for any of its actions that affect people, their communities, and their environment. Businesses must recognize their vast power and wield it to better society.
  • The idea of corporate social responsibility in the United States was adopted by business leaders in the early twentieth century. The central themes of social responsibility have been charity-which means giving aid to the needy-and stewardship-acting as a public trustee and considering all corporate stakeholders when making business decisions.
  • Corporate social responsibility is a highly debatable notion. Some argue that its benefits include discouraging government regulation and promoting long-term profitability for the firm. Others believe that it lowers efficiency, imposes undue costs, and shifts unnecessary obligations to business.
  • Socially responsible businesses should attempt to balance economic, legal, and social obligations. Following an enlightened self-interest approach, a firm may be economically rewarded while society benefits from the firm's actions. Abiding by legal requirements can also guide businesses in serving various groups in society. Managers should consider all of the company's stakeholders and their interests.
  • Examples of corporate social responsibility are increasing around the world. While some companies in some nations historically have taken a more limited view of social responsibility, companies elsewhere, particularly in North America, Asia, and Europe, are demonstrating socially responsible principles in their business activities.