Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 131, Issue 3, pp 625–648 | Cite as

Defining CSR: Problems and Solutions

  • Benedict SheehyEmail author


The ubiquity of the term CSR threatens its carrying any distinctive meaning. Despite its long history no consensus has been developed among the industry participants, academics or other interested parties. After a careful review of the complications and complexities of the CSR debate and distinct disciplinary definitions, the article turns to approach the problem of definition using the philosophy of science. It applies a scientific definitional approach of genus, differentia and species to arrive at a definition of CSR as international private business self-regulation. The article provides an overview of the implications of this definition on CSR as a field of study, a management practice and an approach to improving the dialogue concerning the social contribution of business.


CSR Regulation Self-regulation Private law Private politics Definitions Philosophy of knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Business and LawRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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