Corporate Social Responsibility: Theories and Approaches

This work evaluates two peer-reviewed articles on CSR. The articles selected for this paper explore the theoretical part of CSR, its aspects, and approaches. Learning this is important to me because theory provides a crucial background for practice and analysis. The concept of corporate social responsibility is a relatively new subject that occurred only several decades ago. Ever since it first started to be implemented, corporate social responsibility became an object of multiple debates and arguments. Even though the notion of CSR is rather fresh, the concepts and disciplines it is based on are as old as the conscious society. Corporate social responsibility started to be meaningful when humans first began to be present to the fact that business and its structure can be viewed as a social unit, which makes it obliged to follow the rules and laws of the society. Business relationships are founded on ethical concepts and understandings, and this makes CSR a multidimensional subject with a variety of aspects, responsibilities, and concerns. In the world of nowadays, businesses are viewed as important and influential parts of society. Besides, modern society carefully watches all of its elements so that they function properly and in balance.

This way, a business that falls out of the social norms required for it starts to lose revenues, customers, and reputation. Corporate social responsibility is what makes businesses rightful units of the societies and obliges them to carry out their functions in harmony with a variety of social trends and processes. In other words, CSR is important because, without it, a business is likely to become a social outcast and soon cease to exist. Since society is an ever-changing element, CSR is to be flexible and adapt quickly, which makes it interesting to study. CSR keeps shifting and developing new categories and styles responding to the alterations in the society around them.

The first article is “Corporate Social Responsibility and Its Role in Community Development: An International Perspective” by Maimunah Ismail. In this article, the author focuses on analyzing such theories of CSR as utilitarian, managerial, and relational, on exploring their meanings and influences. The article also studies the perception of CSR in different countries of the world and its role in community development. Moreover, the author identifies the main competencies required for successful CSR managers. This aspect is discussed to provide the readers with an idea of practical sides of the work of a CSR professional.

The rationale for the selection of this article is that it contains a lot of important information for the learner willing to deepen their understanding of corporate social responsibility, the way it works, the impacts it creates, and the roles it fulfills. Besides, the fact that this article introduces the three main groups of CSR theories and focuses on the qualities and duties of CSR managers makes it useful for a wider range of readers, among whom there could be not just students, but also practitioners, business leaders, and managers.

The author of this article discusses the idea that CSR helps to make the connections between corporations and communities stronger (Ismail, 2009). First of all, CSR is designed to bring social ethics and norms into the corporations, which gradually turns them into something bigger, deeper, and more meaningful than just places of employment. CSR creates communities within the corporations and then provides the rules and strategies for their successful functioning and interaction. Besides, the author mentions that there is a direct and very tight connection between the practices directed at the environment protection within various corporations and CSR (Ismail, 2009). Environmental stewardship is one of the parts of community participation that occurs when CSR enforces more public sector influences and responsibilities on corporations (Kell, 2014).

The ideas mentioned above are in direct connection with the concepts of CSR and decision making because community development is both a significant role of CSR and one of the main impacts affecting it. Community development and all the social trends that occur in its process create a serious influence on the CSR management and strategies practiced within corporations.

In my opinion, the article lacked some deeper perspectives on the groups of CSR theories, such as the benefits and challenges for each group of theories. For example, how does the utilitarian approach manages to combine utilitarian ethics with the focus on financial achievements?

The second article selected for this paper is “Defining Corporate Social Responsibility: A Systems Approach for Socially Responsible Capitalism” by Richard E. Smith. The author starts by emphasizing the controversy of the concept of corporate social responsibility and why it is the subject of multiple arguments targeting its definition, roles, and functions. The author suggests a new definition for CSR, discusses the purpose of corporation and stakeholder management, which, by the way, fit the utilitarian, instrumental, and relational theories mentioned in the previous article. Finally, the role of ethics and management practices are explored in the article.

The author states that the financial crisis that occurred recently was caused by the corporations’ focus on legal norms, which failed to consider the ethical rules and practices. Such behavior impacts all of the stakeholders and creates a variety of negative influences (Smith, 2011). For example, suppliers lost their profits, employees get fired, consumers become displeased, and the government’s tax revenue decreases. According to Smith (2011), not every ethics breach leads to a financial crisis, yet the majority of them end up negatively affecting the corporations in one way or another.

The article was selected because the author explores important aspects of CSR, among which there is the idea of application of the Integrated Social Contract Theory within corporations. This way, the importance of employee engagement, which is one of the most important CSR trends in the last and this year, is emphasized (Gorman & Lammers, 2013).

These ideas are directly related to CSR because they explore the meaning of ethics in the internal processes and relationships within corporations. The concept of CSR is based on studying the human factor of the businesses and the integration of the corporations into the social life of the communities around them. Becoming a social unit, corporations get involved in a new process, which both complicates their work and provides them with a huge variety of new development opportunities.

It was fascinating to read about the Integrated Social Contract Theory. It provided a new perspective on the structure and character of corporations in the contemporary world. In my opinion, businesses have never been more “alive” than they are now. Being so deeply integrated into the social processes, they start to obtain human qualities—the article elaborated on all aspects of CSR.

Reference List

Gorman, L. & Lammers, L. 2013, Looking Ahead – 5 CSR Trends on the Radar for 2014, Web.

Ismail, M. 2009, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility and Its Role in Community Development: An International Perspective’, The Journal of International Social Research, vol. 2, no. 9, pp. 199-209.

Kell, G. 2014, Five trends that show corporate responsibility is here to stay, Web.

Smith, R. E. 2011, Defining Corporate Social Responsibility: A Systems Approach for Socially Responsible Capitalism, Ph. D. thesis. University of Pennsylvania.