Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 88, Supplement 3, pp 433–451 | Cite as

The Impact of Chinese Culture on Corporate Social Responsibility: The Harmony Approach

Article

Abstract

Although the history of adopting the Western Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concept in China spans less than 20 years, the core principles of CSR are not new and can be legitimately interpreted within traditional Chinese culture. We find that the Western CSR concepts do not adapt well to the Chinese market, because they have rarely defined the primary reason for CSR well, and the etic approach to CSR concepts does not take the Chinese reality and culture into consideration. This article resolves these problems and contributes a new definition of CSR, called here – the Harmony Approach to CSR. Simply, the Chinese harmony approach to CSR means ‘respecting nature and loving people’. It is the first time CSR has been defined in relation to Confucian interpersonal harmony and Taoist harmony between man and nature. Conceptually, this definition will broaden our understanding and will fit the characteristics of the Chinese market better. The idea of incorporating cultural contexts into CSR concepts could also contribute to future CSR studies. In business practice, it will help corporations to adopt CSR on their own initiative. The proposed virtues of traditional Chinese wisdom, in particular, will guide corporations to a new way of improving their CSR performance.

KEY WORDS:

CSR China harmony Confucian Taoism 

Abbreviations

BC

Before Christ

CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility

CR

Corporate Responsibility

CIBA

The Chinese Institute of Business Administration

CNTAC

China National Textile and Apparel Council

FDI

Foreign direct investment

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

GE

General Electric Company

GC

The Global Compact

ICT

Information and Communications Technology

ILRF

International Labour Rights Fund

ILSS

Institute of Labour and Social Security

ISO

International Standards Organization

MCPRC

Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China

NGO

Non-Governmental Organization

NPC

National People’s Congress

ORSE

Study Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility

PRC

People’s Republic of China

SGCC

The State Grid Corporation of China

SAI

Social Accountability International

WTO

World Trade Orga- nization

WRAP

Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest EconomicsUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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