The Ashgate Research Companion to Corporate Social Responsibility is edited by David Crowther, De Montfort University, UK and Nicholas Capaldi, Loyola University New Orleans, USA.
This is an edited extract from the introduction to the book. You can read the full introduction on our website.
One of the implications of the current concern with corporate misbehaviour is that this is a new phenomenon – one which has not been of concern previously. Issues of socially responsible behaviour are not, of course, new and examples can be found from throughout the world and at least from the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution and the concomitant founding of large business entities and the divorce between ownership and management – or the divorcing of risk from rewards.
It was as long ago as 1967 that Marshall McLuhan first stated that we now live in a global village and that technology was connecting everyone together. Marshall McLuhan was prophetic. When he was talking about this global village he also said that war would continue to be a feature of the world but that there would be an increasing emphasis upon economic war rather than physical war.
Physical war has not gone away but it might be argued that the reasons for wars in the present are to do with economic reasons at least as much as they are to do with imperialistic or ideological reasons – at least as far as governments and countries are concerned. But governments, as the epitome of the nation state, are becoming less important.
What is becoming more important than governments and nation states is the multinational company, operating in a global environment. Some of these multinationals are very large indeed – larger than many nation states and a good deal more powerful. Arguably it is here that the economic war for the global village is taking place.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been one of the most debated management issues, with both academics and practitioners trying to give proper meaning to the concept and justifying why corporations should adopt ethical and socially responsible behaviour, yet there is lack of consensus on what the concept means, what it entails, why it should be embraced, how it should be operationalised, what its roles are in achieving organisational effectiveness or performance and many other issues bordering on the concept.
At the same time the development of a theoretical underpinning for CSR has been given increased priority, with a critique of utilitarianism and its antecedent, classical liberalism, featuring prominently.
The purpose of this book is to explore a wide variety of aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility. So all the contributions in this book are concerned with different aspects of CSR but are united through their concern with the effect of corporate activity upon the various stakeholders to that corporation, although all of the contributors consider this issue through differing theoretical lenses and are concerned with different stakeholder groupings.
Part of the intention is to show the diversity of concerns which fall under the umbrella term of corporate social responsibility. It is equally part of the objective of this book to show that a concern with corporate social responsibility is a worldwide issue which is being addressed by scholars in many countries. This volume presents a spectrum of approaches from a variety of scholars from different countries and from different disciplines in order to show the diversity of the debate and the diversity of contributors.
It is necessary to treat the various issues under discussion in separate chapters, each contributed by different experts in various locations throughout the world. One implication of this is that these are discrete topics whereas there is considerable overlap in the topics. Thus many topics are referred to in the context of various chapters about seemingly diverse subjects. For example, sustainability is such an important concept, and so central to any discussion of corporate social responsibility, that it features extensively in the various contributions to this volume. So too are concepts such as accountability and governance.
It is important to recognise that this volume is not encyclopaedic in the coverage of corporate social responsibility – such a task would be impossible – but it seeks to highlight a number of important debates which are taking place in the arena. The choice of topics is, of course, that of the editors; in making this choice we recognise, of course, that many readers will disagree with what has been included or, more significantly, what has been excluded.