How Serious is CSR? A Critical Perspective*

Elaine Sternberg

in The Responsible Corporation in a Global Economy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592173
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729058 | DOI:
How Serious is CSR? A Critical Perspective*

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Corporate social responsibility is criticized on a number of fronts: for its vagueness; for the ‘stakeholder approach’; and primarily for its attempts to obligate business people to subvert business resources towards other, non‐business, purposes. Thus, CSR reflects the failure of its advocates to understand the proper role of business in society, i.e. to make long‐term financial gain for the owners through provision of a good or service. Within this perspective, conventional CSR is deemed irresponsible because it encourages employees and managers to divert owner funds towards socially responsible behaviours and actions and, as such, CSR is unethical and impedes ‘realist business ethics’. Instead, business actions are ethical when they are conducted in accordance with principles of ‘Ordinary Decency’ and ‘Distributive Justice’. CSR actions that are strategic for promoting organizational success are not criticized however; these are understood to be just good (business) practice.

Keywords: CSR criticisms; stakeholder approach; realist business ethics

Chapter.  11303 words. 

Subjects: Corporate Governance

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