Much Ado about Nothing

J. (Hans) van Oosterhout and Pursey P. M. A. R. Heugens

in The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199211593
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Much Ado about Nothing

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This article refutes the underlying conceptual need for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the first place. All told, these critiques offer some serious challenges to the CSR field, although the conclusions reached by each of the contributors differ as to their degree of optimism or pessimism regarding its potential. The conceptual critique of the CSR concept is structured as follows. First, this article introduces some distinctions for evaluating CSR as an academic concept. It then sketches a short history of CSR concept formation, and elaborates on definitions and operationalizations of the CSR concept. Finding that CSR is problematic both theoretically and empirically, it proceeds to explore what—if any—role remains for the notion of CSR in business and society research. It concludes that it would be prudent for the field to dispense with the notion of CSR altogether.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; CSR field; academic concept; business; society research

Article.  12163 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business Strategy ; Business Ethics

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