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Saving the world cannot be a one-man show

Combining CSR research and social entrepreneurship theory for a better future

Written by M. Bredhammar, P. Slesinski

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Leadership




Master Thesis: Corporate Social Responsibility As mentioned above, this chapter aims to provide the first meaning of our conceptual model and build the foundation for us to construct answers to research questions. We start by providing extensive background information on corporate social responsibility. 3.1 The history of corporate social responsibility For many years, the debate on corporate social responsibility has continued. This dispute is still unresolved because there are many different opinions on this issue. In academia, one point of this ongoing debate is that companies have no social responsibility, or the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is very limited. Milton Friedman (Klonoski 1991) is one of the most famous advocates of this proposition. Friedman (1970) believed that enterprises cannot take responsibility as people do, and firmly pointed out that the only social responsibility of enterprises is to increase their own profits. Friedman went on to point out that as long as it conforms to the rules of the game, companies should use their resources to increase profits. This means that the economic environment in which the company operates determines social responsibility. Friedman's view of corporate social responsibility is characterized as fundamentalism and is called the legal recognition view (Klonoski 1991). The legally recognized view points out that enterprises are not the product of society (DeGeorge 1990). It refers to the claim that enterprises have no moral or social obligations (Klonoski 1991). According to Klonoski (1991, p.10), “Friedman’s key position is that in addition to complying with individual agreements, the company and its managers do not need to assume social responsibility morally.” Another CSR debate in the academic world The point of view is related to the previous point, but the point of view is different. Klonoski (1991) explained that the assumption of perspective stems from the basic nature of the enterprise and the degree to which the enterprise can be held accountable for its actions. Several authors in academia claim that companies can be held accountable for their actions, but they come to this conclusion for different reasons. DeGeorge (1986) believes that companies can act implicitly like individuals. In this sense, corporate actions can be compared with individual actions. Scholars who hold this view on CSR believe that companies have moral obligations similar to those of natural persons. Peter French made a further argument on this point of view. He pointed out that enterprises are metaphysical people and therefore moral people. 3.2 Defining Corporate Social Responsibility There are many different definitions of the meaning of CSR. A study identified 37 definitions of the CSR concept (Dahlsrud 2008). This is considered an understatement, because many academically derived definitions are not included in the research and therefore cannot be determined (Carroll and Shabana 2010). In academia, one of the earliest definitions of CSR was proposed by Bowen (1953), who pointed out: “Businessmen are obliged to pursue these policies, make these decisions, or follow the course of action that is desirable in terms of goals and objectives. We Social values” (Carroll 1999, p. 270). Since then, the definition has gradually evolved to recognize activities that go beyond pure economic and technical benefits, but also include attention to employees, consumers, suppliers, and the entire community (Carroll 1999; Carroll and Shabana 2010). The source of our understanding of the CSR concept On the assumption that at any given point in time, there is a social contract between the organization and the society. This means that organizations must not only bear economic and legal responsibilities, but also moral and charitable responsibilities (Carroll 1999; Donaldson and Dunfee 1999). Dahlsrud (2008) reviewed the work of Carroll (1991; 1999; 2000; 2004) and concluded that most definitions include at least two of the following: social issues, interaction with stakeholders, environmental issues, economic growth And voluntary actions involving the organization. Although according to Unsworth, Russell, and Davis (2016), the definition rarely includes the simultaneous occurrence of all these dimensions. One of the most commonly used definitions of CSR states: "The company considers and responds to issues that exceed the company’s narrow economic, technical and legal requirements [...] in order to achieve social benefits and traditional economic benefits companies seek" (Davis 1973 Years, pp. 312, 312). This definition illustrates our understanding as the author of the CSR definition, because this definition magnifies the fact that there is a balance between economic and social benefits. Therefore, this definition is the definition of what corporate social responsibility means to us that we use throughout our research. 3.3 The business case of corporate social responsibility CSR is a controversial concept for many years. This is a concept that has continued to grow in importance, most notably since the beginning of the 21st century (Carroll and Shabana 2010; Fleming et al., 2013). Although there has been controversy over the meaning of CSR and the content of its concept, it is constantly developing and evolving in academic fields and practices all over the world. Read Less