Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a People Caring Concept

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a People Caring Concept

Pinelopi Athanasopoulou
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5880-6.ch002
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CSR has been a widely-researched concept during the last three decades. However, there is no agreement on its definition or its dimensions; antecedents and consequences and there is no comprehensive model for its analysis. The origins of CSR lie in philanthropy and the highest level of CSR is considered to involve philanthropic actions. CSR is a people-caring concept that is incorporated in firms' strategy. Strategic CSR is based on stakeholder theory and is used to provide competitive advantages through product or brand differentiation. Although there have been many efforts to measure the effectiveness of CSR, there is no single way of assessing CSR performance. Also, effective CSR communication is a very important matter for firms and although there is a lot of research on this subject, the debate is still on regarding what to say; through which channels, and how to say it in order to avoid consumer scepticism and reap strategic benefits. Based on this analysis, emergent themes of research are identified in this chapter and areas of further research are proposed.
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The Concept Of Csr

CSR is a concept that has a long history although researchers even now cannot agree on one definition. The origins of CSR lie in philanthropy, the oldest social initiative among American private enterprises (Godfrey, 2009). Since governments retreated partly or completely from directly providing public services in several areas (e.g., utilities, health care, education) (Whetten et al., 2002), corporate philanthropy was needed.

CSR has emerged as a concept in 1953 with Bowen's book “Social Responsibility of the businessman”. Bowen (1953, p.6) defines the social responsibilities of business at that time as “the obligations of businessmen to pursue those policies, to make those decisions or follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of society”. That is why Carroll (1999, p. 270) argues that “Bowen should be called the “Father of Corporate Social Responsibility””. From then onwards, CSR has evolved in the 1970s with the work of Davis (1973), Carroll (1979), and Wood (1991). Researchers have been investigating CSR for over three decades (Carroll, 1979; Margolis & Walsh, 2003; McWilliams & Siegel, 2000) and therefore, there has been a proliferation of definitions of CSR in the last 40 years.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strategic Corporate Philanthropy: Donation of corporate resources to address non-business community issues that may also benefit the firm’s strategic position.

Stakeholders: Any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives.

Corporate Sustainability: Company voluntary activities demonstrating the inclusion of social and environmental concerns in business operations and in interactions with stakeholders.

CSR Engagement: Level of practice of CSR actions.

Brand Equity: The value of a brand.

Corporate Social Responsiveness: Companies’ effectiveness in dealing with stakeholder concerns in both calm and stormy times.

Strategic CSR: CSR activities aimed at creating sustainable competitive advantages and maximising profits.

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