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“Thou Shalt not be Good Enough”: (Mis)understanding CSR

“Thou Shalt not be Good Enough”: (Mis)understanding CSR Purpose – The paper's purpose is to improve understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR), by critically examining two assumptions taken for granted in capitalist market economies as well as economic theory, and their consequences for CSR. Design/methodology/approach – The two assumptions of resource scarcity and the necessity to outperform competitors, and their consequences for one's understanding of CSR are discussed. Some criticisms of CSR are reviewed in this context. Findings – The paper argues that the named assumptions put pressure on individuals and induce fear, inhibiting individual reflection on the ends and consequences of economic activity. Moreover, if individuals look to organizations for alleviation of fear, this will inhibit such reflection on the organizational level. This lack of reflection leads to CSR being interpreted and practised in narrow ways, for example, as a public relations measure unconnected to core business. Thus, in order to arrive at a more holistic understanding and practice of CSR, the basic assumptions of scarcity and outperformance must be addressed. Originality/value – The paper positions the CSR concept, as well as the problems and criticisms related to it, in a broader historical, cultural and psychological context. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Responsibility Journal Emerald Publishing

“Thou Shalt not be Good Enough”: (Mis)understanding CSR

Social Responsibility Journal , Volume 3 (4): 6 – Nov 1, 2007

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1747-1117
DOI
10.1108/17471110710840198
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The paper's purpose is to improve understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR), by critically examining two assumptions taken for granted in capitalist market economies as well as economic theory, and their consequences for CSR. Design/methodology/approach – The two assumptions of resource scarcity and the necessity to outperform competitors, and their consequences for one's understanding of CSR are discussed. Some criticisms of CSR are reviewed in this context. Findings – The paper argues that the named assumptions put pressure on individuals and induce fear, inhibiting individual reflection on the ends and consequences of economic activity. Moreover, if individuals look to organizations for alleviation of fear, this will inhibit such reflection on the organizational level. This lack of reflection leads to CSR being interpreted and practised in narrow ways, for example, as a public relations measure unconnected to core business. Thus, in order to arrive at a more holistic understanding and practice of CSR, the basic assumptions of scarcity and outperformance must be addressed. Originality/value – The paper positions the CSR concept, as well as the problems and criticisms related to it, in a broader historical, cultural and psychological context.

Journal

Social Responsibility JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 1, 2007

Keywords: Corporate governance; Social responsibility

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