, Volume 53, Issue 1-2, pp 51-71

Corporate Social Responsibility Theories: Mapping the Territory

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Abstract

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) field presents not only a landscape of theories but also a proliferation of approaches, which are controversial, complex and unclear. This article tries to clarify the situation, “mapping the territory” by classifying the main CSR theories and related approaches in four groups: (1) instrumental theories, in which the corporation is seen as only an instrument for wealth creation, and its social activities are only a means to achieve economic results; (2) political theories, which concern themselves with the power of corporations in society and a responsible use of this power in the political arena; (3) integrative theories, in which the corporation is focused on the satisfaction of social demands; and (4) ethical theories, based on ethical responsibilities of corporations to society. In practice, each CSR theory presents four dimensions related to profits, political performance, social demands and ethical values. The findings suggest the necessity to develop a new theory on the business and society relationship, which should integrate these four dimensions.