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Corporate social responsibility: not whether, but how



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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new idea. However, CSR has never been more prominent on the corporate agenda than it is today. This paper examines the pressures for increased corporate attention to CSR and whether this attention is warranted and likely to be sustained. The paper differentiates between the business case for CSR and the normative case and concludes that often there may be a compelling business case for making a substantial commitment to CSR, but an individual firm must assess the extent to which the general business case for CSR applies to its specific circumstances. It is suggested that for some firms (e.g. in the pharmaceutical and resource extraction industries) CSR may be a major influence on corporate strategy, though it is unclear whether these examples reflect unique characteristics of these industries or an early warning of pressures likely to be experienced in other industries. Companies making a substantial commitment to CSR - because of a business or a normative case - are likely to find that this involves major challenges with respect to the formulation and implementation of CSR strategy, not least because of the uncertainties forever associated with determining a firm’s societal obligations.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

Series Number



Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Available on ECCH


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