Top Managers as Drivers for Corporate Social Responsibility

Diane L. Swanson

in The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199211593
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191576997 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Top Managers as Drivers for Corporate Social Responsibility

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  • Business Strategy
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour


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This article addresses top managers as drivers for corporate social responsibility (CSR). It summarizes the responsibility roles implied by or assigned to managers in selected models of corporate social performance. Given this backdrop for business and society research, it focuses on the importance of moral leadership in directing the formal and informal organization toward socially responsible goals. In other words, the emphasis is on the focal role of top executive managers in driving social responsibility. This focus is not meant to convey that middle or lower managers are irrelevant to CSR. It is simply that their decision-making discretion is largely circumscribed by top managers, which is why middle and lower managers often face uncomfortable moral dilemmas when their values are incompatible with those established at a higher level of command. Finally, this article points to some contextual factors that impact socially responsible leadership in terms of external and internal controls.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; corporate social performance; moral leadership; executive managers; socially responsible leadership

Article.  8903 words. 

Subjects: Business Strategy ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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