Corporate Social Responsibility in Water Services: A Developing Country Perspective

Corporate Social Responsibility in Water Services: A Developing Country Perspective

George Tsogas (City University London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-332-4.ch015

Abstract

Water companies have attracted minimal attention in the corporate social responsibility literature. This chapter examines conceptual issues regarding the applicability and relevance of CSR principles in a public service industry. It aims to bridge the gap that exists between the CSR and water service discourses by offering some initial ideas on the CSR issues of particular relevance to this industry, with emphasis on developing countries. We suggest re-examination of relationships with poor communities, a different understanding of the role of the government, and the adoption of industry-wide, as opposed to company-specific, social responsibility schemes.
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A Stakeholder Perspective

A recent surge in media and academic interest in CSR may suggest that theory of the corporation-society interface is a recent phenomenon. The reality is that a long list of authors since Adam Smith, and beyond, has exercised their minds on the subject. Nevertheless there are numerous unresolved theoretical and empirical issues in CSR (not least of which, a universally agreed definition of CSR) and academics have drawn on several existing theories to explain, critique and study the area. Theories drawn on include: agency theory (Friedman, 1970); stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984; Donaldson and Preston, 1995); institutional theory and classical economic theory (Jones, 1995); a resource-based-view-of-the-firm (Penrose, 1959; Barney, 1991; Wernerfelt, 1984; Hart, 1995); economic models of CSR (Baron, 2001; Feddersen and Gilligan, 2001) and; systems theory (Preston and Post, 1975). We propose that stakeholder theory may be further developed in the discourse on CSR in the water industry.

Since the word “stakeholder” first appeared in management literature in the 1960s discussion of the concept diverged in a number of directions: corporate planning literature (Ansoff, 1965; Taylor, 1977); systems theory literature (Churchman, 1968; Ackoff, 1970; Davis and Freeman, 1978); corporate social responsibility literature (Post, 1981; Dill, 1975; Ackerman, 1975; Ackerman and Bauer, 1976; Murray, 1976; Hargreaves and Dauman, 1975; Wheeler and Sillampaa, 1997; Mahon and Warwick, 2003; Martin, 2004 and; Post, James, Preston and Sachs, 2002) and organisational theory literature (Rhenman, 1968 and; Katz, Kahn and Adams, 1980).

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