Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 86, Issue 4, pp 417–428 | Cite as

Political and Economic Arguments for Corporate Social Responsibility: Analysis and a Proposition Regarding the CSR Agenda

Article

Abstract

Different perspectives on corporate social responsibility (CSR) exist, each with their own agenda. Some emphasise management responsibilities towards stakeholders, others argue that companies should actively contribute to social goals, and yet others reject a social responsibility of business beyond legal compliance. In addition, CSR initiatives relate to different issues, such as labour standards and corruption. This article analyses what types of CSR initiatives are supported by political and economic arguments. The distinction between different CSR perspectives and CSR issues on the one hand and between political and economic arguments on the other could help to advance the debate on the justification and welfare impact of CSR. It is argued that ordinary boundary conditions for business behaviour in a market economy provide support for some, but not all, CSR initiatives. This has implications for policy priorities. Building on the analysis, it is proposed that more attention should be paid to the behaviour of large multinational enterprises in their normal business operations and to CSR issues with a potentially large impact on market functioning.

Keywords

broader goals corporate social responsibility market failures market functioning multinational enterprises neo-liberal economics social contract stakeholder theory welfare impact 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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