This essay discusses the perplexities and challenges of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The essay features the “what”, “why”, and “how” of CSR.
The Challenge of Corporate Responsibility
To augment the Essential Knowledge Project, this essay discusses the perplexities and challenges of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The essay features the “what,” “why,” and “how” of CSR. As they help formulate CSR standards and give voice to organizations, public relations practitioners can use experts’ carefully considered thoughts as well as research findings to determine the best plan of action. Internally and externally, practitioners can help build a foundation for image/reputation management, brand equity, relationship management, issues management, and crisis management.
“Are you a good corporate citizen?” That rhetorical question was asked by Ben W. Heineman Jr., senior vice president for law and public affairs at General Electric Corporation, writing in the Wall Street Journal (6/28/2005). His question helps set the tone for the topic of corporate social responsibility as a vital part of the Essential Knowledge Project. The column explained how GE sets a challenging goal—high performance with high integrity—for successful companies and, indeed, for 21st-century capitalism” (p. B2). High performance and high integrity are good for the bottom line. Citizenship requires a “rigorous, unwavering compliance with the law.” It blends strict adherence to capital performance with integrity to never allow that commitment to corrode those principles. Quality judgments support, rather than defeat, a commitment to financial standards and to the globe where the organization works, including commitment to “reduce greenhouse gases and increase energy conservation” (p. B2).
What is CSR?
When discussing CSR, some prefer corporate responsibility (CR) to avoid the assumption that it is limited to “social” concerns (strategic philanthropy and community relations). Others use “social” responsibility to avoid the stigma that this topic only relates to businesses driven to place profit over social principle. Those who prefer “social” without the modifier “corporate” recognize that non-profits and governmental organizations are and should be held to responsibility standards. By whatever name, interests of organizations cannot long be at odds with mutual interest and common good.
Consideration of corporate social responsibility is as old as organizations themselves. The central question always has been this: Does each organization, as it strives to achieve its mission and vision, add value to the society which franchises its existence? Long before consideration focused on business, especially large corporations, questions about CSR addressed the rationale and acceptability of government and church.
History: A Long-term Perspective
Despite this timeless concern, the topic came to receive serious discussion and management policy development during the 1950’s in nations with large corporations—or those working to overthrow governmental and capitalist colonialism. In developed nations, social movement activism and principles of social democracy offered not only a rationale but also a voice for the concern that mass production/mass consumption societies had spawned large corporations that were slowly dominating the standards of business performance in ways that distorted not only their rationale in society but also the wholesomeness of the private sector. Efficient and rational business practices could in fact harm the society that franchised the organizations to operate.
In the 1960s, interest in CSR became feverish as activists at all points of the ideological and geographical compass called for higher standards of business and government performance. Non-profits asked to share business profits. Academics argued over the differences between the modern and post-modern organization.
As Basu and Palazzo (2008) observed: “The last three decades have witnessed a lively debate over the role of corporations in society” (p. 122). This scrutiny revealed how CSR standards are defined by the ideology of each society. Public relations practitioners contribute to this ideology as they discuss business performance internally and externally. Critics have reasoned that CSR can become insulated, self-serving, and self-affirming—often to the detriment of the society where it was supposed to be a social, political, technical, and financial benefit. Public relations can help organizations craft their standards and implement them through actions and statements.
One of the primary discussants in that 30 year-long dialogue, Freeman Freeman & Liedtka, 1991) observed 17 years ago: “The idea of corporate social responsibility has failed to help create the good society. Long seen by academics and managers alike as the missing link in capitalism, the concept of corporate social responsibility has not delivered on its promise” (p. 92). Convinced of its failure, they reasoned that it is a “dangerous idea” (p. 92), which led them to agree in principle but not detail with Freidman (1970).
Debate Around Friedman’s Arguments
In one way or another, all discussions of CSR recall the famous, or infamous, claim of economist Milton Friedman (1970) that CSR is bunk. He sparked decades of controversy by arguing that the only responsibility of publicly held companies is to increase profits—the efficiency paradigm of organizational excellence. Companies should pay only as much wage/salary as necessary to operate efficiently and pay taxes reluctantly. Some today laud his sentiments, and indeed many empirical tests have not found a positive relationship between CSR activities and major corporate financial performance indicators such as profit (e.g., Agle, Mitchell, & Sonnenfeld, 1999; Auppede, Carroll, & Hatfield, 1985). Agle et al. (1999) stressed the methodological challenge: “Corporate social performance is notoriously difficult to quantify” (p. 515).
Others argue that Friedman’s view of the role of companies too narrowly addresses the key issue. Stovali, Neill, and Perkins (2004) fought the traditional interpretation of the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, which serves to legitimize the maximization of shareholder wealth, and as a result, shareholder-dominant corporate governance. A broader view of the Invisible Hand considers a “sympathy principle,” or the ability and propensity of human beings to consider the interests of others. This view may be more aligned with the dominant concept of CSR and promote a broader, multiple stakeholder approach to corporate governance. If sympathy suggests only philanthropy, we add that CSR demands empathy, an outside-in way of thinking and planning to help management reflect on its role in and impact on the society where it operates. Critics believe that Friedman failed to understand the positive advantages to be gained from CSR: Reduce business costs and bolster profits (See the section on Profits and CSR).
Public Relations Practitioners’ Views
Public relations practitioners added their voices to this controversy. Senior public relations practitioner, John L. Paluszek (1995) reasoned that advocates of CSR can be committed to profits and the community where they are generated,
Business is increasingly in society not only in its traditional role of improving the standard of living—by generating jobs, offering products and services and paying taxes—but also via an overlay of sensitivity that supports employees, empowers customers and investors, and relates to the needs of local, national and international communities. (p. 49)
The daunting question raised by this debate is this: Does the price of enjoying the franchise to operate in a society where profits are generated include increasing operating standards so that the organization adds value to that society beyond merely making a profit? Clark (2000) quoted public relations giant Arthur Page: “All business in a democratic country begins with the public’s permission and exists by public approval” (p. 364). In fact, he might say the same of business in “undemocratic countries.” If it lacks public support, it operates on a questionable franchise.
The legendary John W. Hill (1958) (co-founder of Hill & Knowlton) advised us to understand sound management as the initial step toward appreciating the roles and challenges facing public relations professionals.
It is not the work of public relations—let it always be emphasized—to outsmart the American public in helping management build profits. It is the job of public relations to help management find ways of identifying its own interests with the public interest—ways so clear that the profit earned by the company may be viewed as contributing to the progress of everybody in the American economy. (p. 21)
Another senior practitioner, Raymond Ewing (Allstate Insurance) (1987) reasoned, “A corporation exists for the optimization of the satisfactions of its stakeholders” (p. 32).
This history of CSR discussions leads to many conclusions, including the following ones:
- Knowing and achieving legal and ethical standards are not inherently opposed to one another, but they are not one and the same (Bowen & Heath, 2005);
- Knowing and achieving engineering and operating standards that advance quality of work life, product quality and the community well-being where organizations operate is fundamental to CSR;
- Understanding and appreciating that the franchise to operate is granted by and required to serve the positive interests of society;
- Adopting standards that blend the public and private interest is basic to achieving aligned and mutual interest.
Thus, higher standards of employee or consumer safety help manage risks and reduce the likelihood of crisis related to employment and consumption.
Source of the Controversies
The Role of Business in Society: (Is CSR a Responsibility, an Advantage, or a Just a Liability?)
During the 1980s, discussion of CSR progressed logically from responsiveness to responsibility and rectitude: The ability “to act with rectitude, to refer their policies and plans to a culture of ethics that embraces the most fundamental moral principles of humankind” (Frederick, 1986, p. 136). The heart of CSR is a firm interdependence between business and society.
Although his statement is fraught with the irony surrounding the tobacco industry, George Weissman (1984), former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Philip Morris, Inc., set corporate responsibility into its sociopolitical context: “Like property, the corporation is a creation of the state. It gets its charter from the government. To survive, the corporation subjects itself to regulation by government, and to serving the needs of government and the commonwealth.” This point “is fundamental to understanding the concept of corporate responsibility in its current context; to understanding that we are not dealing with a fad; and to understanding that we are dealing with the fundamental existence and survival of the corporation” (p. 67). Businesses are expected to be involved in community affairs, formerly the exclusive responsibility of government, reasoned Chrisman and Carroll (1984) in their efforts to reconcile profits, business goals, and society.
CSR is basic to each organization’s character, good, bad, or in between. Its character depends on how well it can align its interests with those of consumers, audiences, and publics. For this reason, CSR is not merely a communication challenge; it is a management planning and performance challenge.
Public relations can help an organization know the standards needed to achieve CSR through issue monitoring. Such issue monitoring facilitates an outside-in approach to considering what makes an organization good—the standards and expectations by which it is judged. An outside-in approach makes pragmatic and ethical sense because activists and other critics play a significant role in the raising of CSR standards and in evaluating private sector performance.
Platitudes are likely to foster as well as frustrate efforts to discover which standards of corporate responsibility truly make a difference in the quality of relationships with key stakeholders. The challenge is to know how the organization’s interests align with those of its stakeholders. One goal of such discussions is to achieve the common good (Mahon & McGowan, 1991) and to enhance community (Heerema & Giannini, 1991).
Meeting stakeholder expectations is a vital part of achieving the legitimacy needed to operate. Sethi (1977) coined the legitimacy gap between organizational performance and the expectations of myriad stakeholders. At least in part, questions about legitimacy express “concern for a corporation’s image” (Clark, 2000, p. 364). Is it a crisis (therefore the rationale for crisis management and communication) when an organization’s image is damaged because its legitimacy is questioned because it fails to meet established CSR principles?
Heath (1997) featured the legitimacy gap as the rationale for his discussion of the four pillars of strategic issues management (SIM):
- Strategic business planning which includes foresight judgment, budgeting, and choices among options that lead to organizational success within a sociopolitical environment.
- Issue monitoring which can help organizations understand the alignment of interests, points of misalignment, as well as power resources and challenges by various stakeholders.
- Corporate responsibility, the standards by which an organization is judged.
- Issues communication, the dialogue to better understand facts, develop appropriate evaluations, create vital identifications, advance reputations, and foster public policy positions that achieve mutually beneficial interests. Such discourse defines terms, establishes principles and standards, and thereby creates the socially constructed meaning that guides CSR.
SIM sees CSR/CR as the socially approved expenditure of material and human resources to advance the strategic business plans in ways that meet stakeholder expectations. When firms’ operations offend stakeholder expectations, legitimacy gaps motivate stakeholders to correct those operations. Such logic applies not only to the private sector, but also to non-profit organizations and government agencies.
Without oversimplifying the topic, four general themes seem to dominate the discussion of business CSR/CR:
- Profits efficiently earned may not constitute a sufficient CSR standard.
- Companies should engage in strategic philanthropy whereby good acts improve operating conditions and quality of life—and serve society.
- Companies should partner with non-profits and government agencies to solve social, economic, and psychological problems in society.
- Companies should meet or exceed stakeholder expectations of performance standards needed to satisfy the moral rectitude that business contributes to the long-term business climate by collaborative decision making and operating in the public interest.
In such matters, CSR might be defined as corporate strategic philanthropy, even narrowed to “effective public relations” where images are massaged by wordsmiths who tout the excellence of the organization and build accommodating relationships with stakeholders. It can be viewed as cause-related marketing. At best, it can be conceived of as knowing, achieving, and communicating about higher standards of performance in the public or community interest.
Profits and CSR: Partners or Opponents? (Are We More Able to Generate and Use Revenue Wisely by Meeting Stakeholder CSR Expectations?)
Does the cost of achieving CSR decrease, increase, or have no effect on “profit” –the cost-benefit residual? What communication activities add impact to CSR performance? In addition to making general claims that corporate responsibility is good for business (Makower, 1994) and observing the trend that companies are integrating environmental values and competitive strategizing (Elkington, 1994), many empirical studies offer data that demonstrate the relationship between profits and CSR.
Most studies have identified a positive relationship (although not always linear) between CSR activities and organization performance as measured by various indicators such as shareholder returns, profit, or marketing impact. For example, the data from Ogden and Watson (1999) suggested that despite the cost of improving the quality of customer service performance, “shareholder returns respond in a significantly positive manner to such improvements” (p. 526).
Beliveau, Cottrill, and O’Neill (1994) found that the CSR-profit relationship is not linear and varies by industry as well as by different company performance indicators. For instance, some industries are rewarded for being innovative more than others. In addition, stock market measures lead in CSR performance, while accounting measures lag CSR. Including sociological factors (such as social impact of an industry) can help explain CSR impact on performance measures. Finally, perceptions of management reputation can have a social and economic advantage.
Sen and Bhattacharya (2001) discovered that CSR performance can increase marketing clout if it relates to product quality and/or consumers’ personal preference views on key social issues. This study suggests that aligned interest is crucial to and accountable for positive impact of CSR, but also cautions that such facts don’t count if key stakeholders don’t know about the organization’s accomplishments.
Awareness counts. Sen, Bhattacharya, and Korschun (2006) used survey data to conclude that knowledge of companies’ CSR (primarily defined as strategic philanthropy) is fairly low. When consumers are more aware of what companies are doing philanthropically, that knowledge increases desire to purchase from the company, and makes it more attractive as a place to work and in which to invest. The motives (positive or negative) attributed to companies for this action affect the perception of and motivation to respond favorably to the company.
Rochlin, Witter, Monagahn, and Murray (2005) discovered that “by building a business strategy that aligns social, environmental, and economic performance with long-term business value, corporate responsibility becomes part of core business and is tied to long-term value creation for both business and society” (p. 8).
Other studies have shown how CSR decisions relate to people’s attitudes and behaviors toward organizations. CR can sell products (Gildea, 1994-1995) but is best when CR decisions lead to increased sales and reputation management, rather than when sales drive CR. Based on ranking data, the following list was compiled, ranging from most important to least important factors in making decisions relevant to a specific company: business practices, community support, employee treatment, quality, environment, service, price, convenience, and stability. Analysis revealed that:
- 34% of the respondents would avoid buying a product or service from a company they perceived as unethical.
- 16% seek information to consider a company’s business practices and ethics as part of their decision making.
- 50% intended not to purchase a product or service from a company they considered not to be socially responsible.
Ellen, Webb, and Mohr (2006) found consumer opinions on CSR performance are complex rather than simple—either serving economic or social ends. Customers are more positive when they see CSR as being values driven and strategic. They think badly of companies whose efforts are attributed to egotism or as merely accommodating.
Using social identity theory, Cornwell and Coote (2005) found that if supporters of a non-profit organization know of a mutually beneficial relationship between it and a company that knowledge and the identification with the non-profit positively predict consumer purchase intentions. Barone, Miyazaki, and Taylor (2000) found a positive connection between cause-oriented marketing and consumer relations.
CR also has shown value by reducing costs and gaining support. Carroll (1991) argued that CR pays for itself. Other assumptions relevant to the bottom line are these:
- CR reduces the propensity and rationale activists have to call for excessive and punitive legislation/regulation and the cost of such mistakes.
- CR protects organizations, at least for a while, during a crisis and can reduce various costs, such as litigation and related punitive damages.
- CR increases the likelihood, on the part of non-profits and governmental agencies, that they will get funding they need because they are accomplishing a mission which stakeholders support.
These factors translate into axioms that Carroll (1991) argued serve the good of the company and community: Do good for the community, be ethical, obey the law in spirit as well as principle, and make a profit (or generate revenue regardless of the type of organization) that is put to proper purpose.
Carroll (1991) used these principles to formulate the pyramid of corporate social responsibility:
- the foundation is economic responsibility (to produce an acceptable return on investment)
- legal responsibilities (to act within the legal framework),
- ethical responsibility (to do no harm to its stakeholders and operating environment),
- philanthropic responsibility (or more proactive, strategic behaviors that can benefit the firm and society, or both):
“Be a good corporate citizen; contribute resources to the community; improve quality of life” (p. 42). To accomplish CSR, effective management requires the appropriate balance between an orientation toward owner/shareholders, and employee stakeholders, customer stakeholders, and community stakeholders. To make society “good” becomes a reality only when this high expectation “becomes the aspiration and preoccupation of management” (p. 48).
Defining CSR: An Evolving Concept and Standards
A Variety of Definitions
As is often the case on thought provoking topics, the CSR literature has produced a variety of definitions, each of which features the advantages to be accrued from CSR.
- Kotler and Lee (2005) defined it as “a commitment to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contribution of corporate resources” (p. 3). These authors found an increased commitment to give more, to report on the giving, to set high social goals for organizational success, and to use such details to build corporate reputation and brand equity.
- Basu and Palazzo (2008) reasoned that CSR is “the process by which managers within an organization think about and discuss relationships with stakeholders as well as their roles in relation to the common good, along with their behavioral disposition with respect to the fulfillment and achievement of these roles and relationships” (p. 124; italics in the original). CSR is “the continuing commitment by business to behaving ethically and contributing to economic development while improving the quality of life of the work force and their family as well as the community and society at large” (Watts & Holmes, 1999 cited in Sims, 2003, p. 43).
- Mahon and McGowan (1991) adopted common-good principles of CSR: “it is clear that most authors mean corporate social responsibility to include behavior and actions beyond merely profit making that serve to improve the conditions of society and individuals within that society” (p. 80).
- Ihlen (2005) suggested that Bourdieu’s (1986) concept of social capital offers a constructive approach to the power elements within a relationship between an organization and those on whom its success or failure depends. Whether instrumental, symbolic, or purely relational, the quality of each relationship rests on whether one entity wants another to continue operation in the current fashion.
- In his entry on Corporate Social Responsibility in the Encyclopedia of Public Relations, Rawlins (2005) proposed that CSR means “doing well by doing good.” That means, for instance, that organizations with high CSR become the employers of choice (an excellent place to work), a neighbor of choice (community where it operates is pleased to have it operating there), and vendor of choice (avoiding bad product design and safety issues—giving full value). The real challenge is for organizations to be accountable beyond financial obligations.
However platitudinous various CSR definitions are, at least four realities are ever present in management discussions and strategic planning regarding CSR:
- Every organization operates in a multiple stakeholder arena where each stakeholder is likely to hold different expectations of how it should operate.
- No absolute standards of corporate responsibility exist; they are defined (socially constructed) by each generation.
- Executives are outraged by accusations that they prefer unethical business practices. For this reason, how discussion transpires within an organization accounts substantially for its positive or negative impact on helping management to be reflective: take an outside-in approach to their planning, operations, and evaluations.
- Calls for operating in the public interest, or community interest, often requires profoundly complicated analysis that defines this interest as an interlocking set of multidimensional determinants of mutual interest. The details move discussions beyond platitude. The devil is in the detail.
Such considerations demand that CSR is more than strategic philanthropy or community relations, such as efforts to sponsor little league teams and engage in goodwill fundraising. It is more than the sort of odious public relations where accommodation and being nice is seen to be more effective than engaging in policy development and implementation that achieves a true community of interest, now ever more global and focused on sustainability.
Expectations of how organizations should perform change over time. “Reshaping the corporate citizenship debate poses challenges to both the advocates and critics of corporate social responsibility. But it is where the debate should occur” (Heineman, 2005, p. B2). Advocacy over standards is likely to occur within as well as outside of each organization (Berger & Reber, 2006; Heath, 2007). The broadest set of ethical concerns arises from the organization’s economic, social, and political interests (Wartick & Cochran, 1985).
Why is CSR Important?
Answers to this question, partially addressed in the previous section, depend on how CSR is defined and what obligations that definition hold for an organization’s mission and vision, its standards of corporate performance, as fundamental to its planning and operations—and the conceptualization of the societal obligation of the organization to satisfy its franchise. As Basu and Palazzo (2008) concluded, “Such a process view of CSR locates the phenomenon as an intrinsic part of an organization’s character (i.e., the way it goes about making sense of its world), with the potential to discriminate it from other organizations that might adopt different types of sense making processes” (p. 124).
One of the strongest CSR roles of public relations is to participate in the social construction of the meaning that defines and evaluates CSR standards by type of organization and during a given era. In contrast to Milton Friedman’s narrow and conservative concern, a more reflective answer to the question of CSR’s importance can be seen in the metaphor that once offered the challenge: What is good for General Motors is good for America. The contrasting point, and the theme of post-modern discussions of corporate responsibility, is this: What is good for society is good for General Motors.
Framed this way, CSR is important for an organization’s success for two primary reasons: (1) To enhance its reputation as being morally bound to rectitude, a rational discretionary choice bringing in economic benefits (Werther & Chandler, 2006), a means for boosting brand equity and sales, and (2) to advance the organization’s credibility and character in public policy battles and during the early stages of a crisis.
Mutual, Aligned Interests and Moral Argument
CSR is the foundation for achieving mutually aligned interests and winning the moral argument about the social relevance of the organization. The modern approach to organizational management was to communicate in ways that shaped markets to the advantage of businesses—an inside-out approach to relationships. A post modern approach suggests that an outside-in approach is more capable of creating and sustaining relationships by achieving truly mutual and aligned interests.
This attention to mutual and aligned interests forms a moral argument for CSR. This argument, similar to the business citizenship perspective, also known as normative stakeholder management (Donaldson & Preston, 1995; Jones & Wicks, 1999), states that organizations consider themselves to be duty bound and deeply embedded in the strength and wholesomeness of community. A large part of corporations’ success comes from the values, expectations, and principles of the wider society within which they operate and which franchises them to operate. In a sense, a social contract exists and conforms corporations to society’s objectives (Wartick & Cochran, 1985). Within the corporate social performance (CSP) framework, Carroll (1979) stated that corporate social responsiveness is measured by the degree to which management responds to the social sphere by enacting each of the firm’s social responsibilities.
Systematic consideration of CSR can be used to reduce friction and increase harmony with stakeholders and increase the organization’s strategic business advantage. To do so requires issue monitoring and critical thinking which are second nature to effective strategic issues management as public relations:
- Ascertain the standards of corporate responsibility held by key stakeholders.
- Compare those standards to those preferred and used by the organization.
- Determine whether differences exist and, if so, whether they strain the relationship.
- Ascertain whether differences in facts account for the disparity in expectations.
- Decide whether value differences constitute the disparity between the organization and its key stakeholders.
- Budget for change options, whether communication strategies, public policy efforts, or redefined strategic business strategies to respond to stakeholder expectations.
- Alter performance or operating standards to lessen the legitimacy gap.
- Take a communication or public policy stance based on correct facts or preferred values when the community interest would be better served.
- Eliminate misunderstanding and disagreement by supplying facts or redefining standards vital to the community interest.
- Incorporate preferred standards of corporate responsibility in strategic business planning, and communicate with key external stakeholders.
- Integrate standards into individual, unit, and corporate performance review, including efforts to achieve total quality management.
- Use improved standards of corporate responsibility to achieve competitive advantage.
- Integrate these standards into product, service, and organizational reputation messages.
- Achieving mutually beneficial interests is not easy in a multiple-stakeholder- environment.
Not all stakeholders see the world in the same way. Interests often conflict. Priorities differ. High standards of corporate responsibility foster aligned relationships and can avoid costly conflict. Good performance is a bottom-line issue.
Cost Reduction and Marketing Advantage (Rational and Economic Arguments)
CSR is important because it is the foundation for reducing cost and gaining marketing advantage.
- Cost reduction (outcome): CSR can reduce cost. Conflict can raise costs, through litigation, legislation, and regulation. These can be dysfunctional means for making decisions of public policy when outrage drives the discussion of stakeholder expectation.
- Marketing advantage (outcome): By achieving appropriate standards of CSR, an organization has a more favorable image and is preferred by customers and other commercial stakeholders. Thus, CSR can increase revenue. CSR is more important when customers can vote their performance expectation with purchase dollars. It has advantage when market conditions prevail so some can achieve market advantage through higher standards. David, Kline, and Dai (2005) offered this challenge: “consumers’ knowledge of CSR practices of an organization is a function of corporate communication activities” (p. 298). This knowledge can lead to positive perceptions of the company, as well as purchase intention and behavior. Perception of an organization’s willingness to engage in discretionary CSR practices and moral/ethics predict belief that the organization has strong corporate social values. Using the theory of reasoned action, Werder (2008) reasoned that knowledge of CSR initiatives can foster salient beliefs about the company, but do not predict attitudes toward it or behavior intention. Luo and Bhattacharya (2006) reasoned that CSR initiatives with stated financial, marketing, and communication objectives can enhance company visibility, enhance customer satisfaction, and generate financial gain. Impact is greater when CSR standards are perceived to be more altruistic than self-interested. As Porter and Kramer (2002) claimed, “The acid test of good corporate philanthropy is whether the desired social change is so beneficial to the company that the organization would pursue the change even if no one ever knew about it” (p. 67).
These two outcomes build a rational or economic argument for CSR. CSR offers a rational argument for managers who seek to maximize their performance by minimizing operational and financial constraints, especially in today’s globalizing world, where activist organizations feel empowered to enact change. This view of CSR builds on what is best about the efficiency and rational market argument supporting the private sector. In addition, CSR is an argument of economic self-interest for business because it allows companies to reflect the needs and concerns of their various stakeholder groups and thus gain its societal legitimacy and maximize its financial viability.
Indeed, Clarkson’s (1995) ten years of research project on corporate social performance found a clear distinction between stakeholder issues and social issues. Similarly, Freeman (1984) suggested the stakeholder framework argues the firm is not responsible to society at large, but to specific stakeholders. Different from the moral argument, this view is similar to strategic philanthropy, or instrumental stakeholder management (Donaldson & Preston, 1995). CSR should focus on specific activities and target publics that are most desirable in terms of loyalty, trust, and goodwill (Fombrun, 1996), consumer purchase decisions, and the goals of the corporation so that ultimately the shareholder value is increased in ways that affirm the franchise to operate.
Globalization/Free Flow of Information and Changing Trends (Reflectiveness and Stakeholder Expectations)
CSR is the foundation for understanding and meeting the challenges of global stakeholders. In the last half of the 20th Century, activist publics formed to change every aspect of business and government. What tended to start as local concern and networking increased to global proportion. With the Internet, virtually every aspect of business and government around the globe can receive instant and detailed attention 24/7.
For this reason, the stakeholders of any organization play an increasingly important role in its standards of CSR. This stakeholder reciprocity/common good rationale for CSR was introduced by Freeman (1984) for strategic management and effective public affairs. This approach reasoned that key stakeholder expectations were crucial to building harmony with targeted organizations.
Basu and Palazzo (2008) highlighted the stakeholder driven approach to CSR is fundamental to a content approach whereby stakeholder standards are important for an organization to know and implement. Planning and performance combine to achieve those standards. The motivation for achievement rests on the principle that reputation counts; it can bring revenue and reduce costs.
This stakeholder rationale motivates authors such as Fombrun (1996) to merge public policy battles and crisis response. Stakeholder adjustments are important. The foundation of successful CSR rests on outside to in thinking: effective CSR goes beyond the question “what’s in it for us” to focus on the higher moral position, “what’s in it for them” or even for “us”?
Related to the stakeholder argument, social capital is thought to be a “stockpile of goodwill” that can aid an organization in addressing and recovering from crisis. It can also increase the likelihood that it will be a desirable relational partner in many ways such as a preferred provider of products or services.
Discussing social capital and its specific role in collective action regarding climate change, Adger (2003) reasoned that such topics “inform the nature of adaptive capacity and normative prescriptions of policies of adaptation. Specifically, social capital is increasingly understood within economics to have public and private elements, both of which are based on trust, reputation, and reciprocal action” (p. 387). Such dialogue can be framed as matters of the public good and ability of organizations to make appropriate adaptations to change. As a resource challenge is framed in terms of economics, CSR (as related to social capital) must come to grips with this reality: “…adaptation processes involve the interdependence of agents through their relationships with each other, with the institutions in which they reside, and with the resource based on which they depend” (p. 388). By this analysis, “social capital is an important determinant of human well-being, along with the traditional factors of production and natural capital” (p. 391). As a force in organizational and societal decision making, social capital can be seen as both bonding through shared meaning and governmental intervention and networking through shared interests and expectations. Such reasoning agrees with Bowie’s (1991) challenge that a stakeholder CSR features “reciprocal duties” (p. 62).
In similar fashion, Clark (2000) concluded that CSR and public relations “have much in common” (p. 369). Her communication-management approach (CMA) works “to join the most compelling arguments made by CSR and public relations, that is, to use the knowledge of identifying stakeholder groups and a corporation’s responsibility to them with the ability to strengthen these relationships through effective communication” (p. 373).
To achieve the fully functioning quality of each relationship, the client organization must have the management procedures and cultural commitment that lead to admiration rather than condemnation. No efforts to foster effective relationships can preclude the need for the organization to be good, as a first step to being a good communicator (Heath, 2001).
How to Implement CSR
How organizations implement CSR depends on how they define it, whether as a moral obligation and a rational approach to stakeholder satisfaction. It serves best when it is part of organizations’ culture, planning, and management. It has implications for budgeting, return on investment, and measures of effectiveness. As mentioned above, public relations practitioners not only participate in the dialogue to define CSR standards but they also play a crucial role in helping markets, audiences, and publics to be aware of the standards client organizations are willing and able to implement.
Plan of Action: Three-factor Model of CSR Implementation and Application to Public Relations
CSR requires a comprehensive approach that, according to Basu and Palazzo (2008, see especially page 208), features the classic troika of human nature:
- Cognitive: Matters of identity and legitimacy that define what and how firms think
- Linguistic: Matters of justification, positioning, and transparency that define what firms say
- Conative: Matters of posture, consistency, and commitment that define how firms behave.
Practitioners can participate in the cognitive, linguistic, and conative aspects of their organizations to foster the alignment of mutually beneficial interests in society.
Cognitive: Public relations, through issues monitoring, can play a vital role in helping the organization to know and think about changing CSR standards and the means for achieving them. The reality, however, is that beyond scanning for changing stakeholder expectations and helping to create a matrix of multidisciplinary players to learn about and analyze such changes, public relations is not expert on many of the matters that are at the core of CSR standards and performance management. Others in management must commit to a strong CSR program. Accountants must recognize, appreciate, and implement higher financial management standards, as must general counsel, engineers, process experts, human resources specialists, nutritionists, environmental impact specialists, to mention only a few of the key disciplines.
Effective public relations and CSR requires every discipline in an organization to understand how an organization can improve, how that improvement enhances stakeholder relationships, and how it can be communicated. Such planning often requires practitioners to convince management that stakeholders are calling for higher engineering standards and processes to achieve employee or product safety, or even more daunting—sustainability. Practitioners may not know what is required in terms of engineering standards or accounting practices. But, practitioners can ascertain that strains occur when key stakeholders expectations are not being met—or when they are being met but the stakeholders do not know that fact.
Linguistic: Exploring the interconnection of communication and management (public relations and CSR), Clark (2000) observed that these two disciplines “have similar objectives: both disciplines are seeking to enhance the quality of the relationship of an organization among key stakeholder groups. Both disciplines recognize that to do so makes good business sense” (p. 376). Making this conclusion, she also noted that “questions as to the chosen message and how it affects the reputation or perception of an organization as responsible remain” (p. 376). Relevant to reputation and issue position are the terms that define a good organization and the socially responsible position on key issues. In such matters, meaning matters.
From this linguistic perspective, public relations can play a leadership role in understanding the terminology or linguistic changes in the communities where each organization operates—outside-in thinking. As the famous language theorist Kenneth Burke (1973) observed, we are interested in co-created meaning. Human experience can never free itself from the terminology operating at a given moment that filters views of physical and social realities (including standards of corporate responsibility). As Burke reasoned, “We must use terministic screens, since we can’t say anything without the use of terms; whatever terms we use, they necessarily constitute a corresponding kind of screen; and any such screen necessarily directs the attention to one field rather than another” (p. 50). Looking as he did so well for the chinks in the armor of communication, he warned: “If language is the fundamental instrument of human cooperation, and if there is an ‘organic flaw’ in the nature of language, we may well expect to find this organic flaw revealing itself through the texture of society” (Burke, 1934, p. 330).
No useful discussion of CSR can ignore the terminological challenges, and the role of public relations in such efforts. “In any process of institutionalization, meaningfulness is never ‘given’ but has to be struggled for, has to be secured, even against the resistance of others” (Clegg, Courpasson, & Phillips, 2006, p. 8). Public relations helps to define key terms that become part of the general dialogue which influences how the ideology of and evaluation of CSR performance is conceived in each society in any era. Therefore, practitioners should be especially trained and positioned to understand, appreciate, and respect the development of idioms that are current in private and public sector thinking and decision making.
Conative: Discussing the conative dimension of CSR, Basu and Palazzo (2008) reasoned that it focuses on matters of posture, consistency, and commitment that define how firms tend and prefer to behave. Organizations enact the standards of CSR in all that they say and do. The operational enactment of each organization’s standards of CSR occurs by “putting their money where their mind and mouth are.” This enactment opens the door for another key role of public relations: To help the organization communicate internally and externally its commitment to various standards and goals and the actions that demonstrate that commitment. Best practices companies believe transparency includes stating their CSR goals and then reporting how well they meet those goals. Such statements can help reduce any legitimacy gap by demonstrating how organizations meet or exceed the expectations of others.
In this way, effective public relations can foster mutually beneficial relationships, which Heath and Coombs (2006) reasoned exhibit the following characteristics:
- Openness and transparency: Letting others see whether the organization has sound CSR principles and whether it meets them
- Trustworthiness: Demonstrating that the organization uses CSR principles to be seen as reliable, non-exploitative, and dependable.
- Cooperation: Enacting collaborative decision making regarding what standards should be met and the measures needed to achieve them
- Alignment: Showing that the organization is responsible, responsive, and able to achieve rectitude through shared interests, rewards, and goals with its stakeholders
- Compatibility of views/opinions: Co-creating (socially constructing) through dialogue the standards and implementation of CSR
- Commitment: Planning and operating in ways that achieve a balance between the interests of the organization and those of the persons whom the organization affects and whose support the organization needs for its success
Although CSR and public relations are not identical they must be interdependent to be effective: Being the good organization as prerequisite for being a good communicator.
In truth, few articles on CSR focus on how it can be communicated. Clark (2000) sought to correct this flaw by showing the parallels between CSR and communication management approaches to public relations which features problem identification, conflict resolution, and relationship quality.
We may add scope to Clark’s argument and show public relations to have a dynamic role in the processes by which organizations advance their CSR performance, in pursuit of strengthening the relationships between them and their stakeholders. In this way, public relations can help organizations to make society more fully functioning (Heath 2006) by solving collective problems rather than merely managing relationships in ways that can accommodate various entities to one another. Having a good relationship does not mean that organizational standards of CSR will be raised. In fact, an antagonistic relationship is more predictive of the kind of change that has led to higher standards of CSR. They have been forged through heated debates (issue communication focusing on fact, value, and policy) by various groups engaged in power resource management, at various times with the good of society genuinely not under consideration but merely the good of a sector of the society, perhaps to the disadvantage of some other sector.
As cases, Enron and other businesses in crisis demonstrate that often the organization with what seems to enjoy the best relationships with stakeholders may not actually—and substantively—be the ones adhering to high CSR standards. The paradox is image driving substance rather than substance driving image. The quality of such relationships needs to be based on solid principles and the willingness and ability of each organization to meet or exceed stakeholder expectations over the long term. Sometimes, and cases are ample to demonstrate this point, organizations foster positive relationships to seem to be good when those relationships actually mask a crisis in the making. Once the crisis manifests itself, the relationships are not only demonstrated to be based on false assumptions and performance standards, but the damage of falsely built relationships makes crisis response and recovery difficult, and even impossible. A sound foundation of CSR commitment can help an organization recover from crisis. In sharp contrast, if the crisis results from inadequate or fraudulent CSR commitment, it is very likely to be even more damaging.
Black and Hartel (2004) conceptualized a model which they tested empirically to better understand the connections between their concepts and the way that public affairs and CSR can make organizations more effective.
- Public relations can support value attuned behavior and dialogue.
- CSR can define and support ethical business behavior and accountability.
- More socially aware organizations exhibit a higher commitment to and ability to achieve genuine dialogue and engagement with stakeholders,
- Organizations with higher CSR exhibit a caring atmosphere (commitment) in the workplace and higher standards of business ethics and
- “foster employee beliefs about the value of accountability” (p. 140).
In such matters, organizations under attack may smooth relationships instead of making true change in ways to reduce the honest hostility of critics. Advocacy as a cognitive variable can, and probably should, be seen as a positive communication option since it addresses from many perspectives the key issues upon which standards of corporate responsibility are forged and framed.
Implementable Strategies and Tactics
However hard an organization strives to meet high CSR standards, that effort can be squandered if targeted publics do not know of this accomplishment as evidence of the organization’s commitment to CSR. Reputation, crisis response, relationship development and other benefits of public relations depend on how well it can communicate about an organizations’ CSR performance.
Fundamentally, public relations practitioners can and must bring discussions of CSR into management decision making to refine and implement mission/vision statements, budgeting, performance standards, and a philosophy or culture of working for a fully functioning society that defines and supports the organization. It must engage in outside-in thinking, issues monitoring, by which it aids other disciplines as well as brings its own expertise to play on knowing the standards expected by various stakeholders. It must engage with other voices to discover, consider, evaluate, and implement facts and opinions that individually and collectively advance the common good. Finally, it must not only help to create and define the culture of CSR excellence internally, but also report the organization’s achievement and commitments externally. Finally,
Specific action steps identified by Werther and Chandler (2006) and discussed by other authors offer short-term strategies including top down commitment, the creation of a CSR framework, CSR position statement, CSR ombudsman, CSR audit and report, and awareness creation. After these basic conditions are created, organizations may engage in more long-term strategies such as stakeholder involvement, corporate governance, and managing key messages. Not all of these strategies should or can be managed by public relations practitioners—but they can add value to internal discussions and planning and are essential to external communication.
- Top down commitment: The integration of CSR into an organization’s operational culture should start with top management, preferably the CEO (or the other top organizational leader such as a vice president of corporate responsibility), who should collaboratively establish the necessary components of an effective CSR policy and institutionalize it within the firm—and use the standards for the assessment of individual, unit, and organizational effectiveness. To this end, the leadership must take a stakeholder perspective rather than input/output approach to strategic management (Donaldson & Preston, 1995).
- CSR framework: Structural support for CSR is needed. CSR should be at the same executive level as other key corporate governance issues. To gain visibility and sponsorship, ideally a CSR officer position should be taken by a company executive and must be backed by the CEO.
- CSR position statement: This statement, with the CEO’s active support, should involve the organization’s key stakeholders and their perspectives and contain a conflict resolution process that seeks mutually beneficial solutions. It also provides practical guidance by reinforcing the importance of CSR through rewards and sanctions and by specifying how CSR is to be implemented on a day-to-day basis. From a business perspective, Hess, Rogovsky and Dunfee (2004) suggested that the CSR process needs to connect to the company’s core values and core competencies, the response to moral pressures, and set clear objectives and means of measurement.
- CSR audit: CSR audit with published results will further awareness among interna
l and external stakeholders. Using survey methodologies in consultation with stakeholders has been considered an effective method (Jackson & Bundgard, 2002) in this procedure. One of the earlier efforts in public relations to facilitate the CSR auditing process was reported by J. Grunig (1979) who used situational theory to explain communication behavior and attitudes of publics arising around issues of CSR. Essentially that study helped managers to select certain social issues for attention and auditing as well as to devise a communication program to inform publics about responsible corporate acts.
- CSR annual report: This report should incorporate triple bottom line thinking: financial, environmental, and social performance. For an “ideal” CSR report, Middlemiss (2004) suggested the following:
- Takes account of the demand (stakeholders) and not of the supply (company).
- Focuses on management systems and doesn’t list too many detailed indicators.
- Doesn’t consist of more than 50 pages and is complemented by the internet and special publications.
- Reveals its key messages within, at most, 30-minutes reading time.
- Is written in a business like fashion and sparsely illustrated.
- Financial report (report to shareholders or donors/followers): Financial stakeholders appreciate firms’ ability to generate profits in ways that demonstrate preferred standards of responsibility. Some mutual funds are designed and managed to feature CSR standards to justify why organizations deserve investment dollars. Such claims are strengthened when they demonstrate how improved ethical standards increase profits, especially by avoiding increased amounts of regulatory constraint, limiting legal liability, increasing market share, or operating efficiently. Sometimes, companies realize that by improving their engineering standards, for instance, they can use more of the feedstock materials they purchase while reducing environmentally damaging wastes and emissions, thereby avoiding unnecessary regulatory constraints. Companies can tout the reduction in raw materials used, improved processes to lessen environmental impact, lowered accident rates, and other practices that mark financial and ethical improvements. They can avoid crises associated with discoveries such as child labor practices, sweatshop conditions, and economic colonialism.
- Online Reports: Printed reports have traditionally been circulated to tout an organization’s CSR standards and accomplishments. Many printed documents never get circulated or only reach those who are not particularly interested in such reading. Today, many organizations place such reports, or at least summaries of such reports with the full report available by link, on their home pages. In this venue, organizations tout their standards of CSR with text and even pictures (including video). Rather than languishing on shelves of public relations practitioners, online versions are available 24/7. The interested reader can even follow links to find additional comments by organizations that positively comment on the focal organization’s standards and achievements. Links can be used to bridge between a business and its non-profit partners in CSR. It is wise as well to continually report on progress and be willing to combat against unsupported or biased claims to the opposite. This online venue can allow for CSR accomplishments to be attached to related messages such as marketing and organizational history.
- Employee communication: Another means for communicating corporate responsibility lies in the array of vehicles, including executive statements and the intranet, used to reach employees. Organizational culture is vital to the way employees conduct themselves and perform their work. This culture is crucial to the ability of an organization to achieve CSR (Hosmer, 1991).
- Advertising and other promotional options: These tools can integrate CSR claims into product and service advertising, as well as arguments by government agencies for funding and by nonprofits for fund-raising. Such claims demonstrate how an organization’s actions truly benefit its stakeholders.
- CSR ombudsman: This position serves as a key component of the continuous internal reinforcement necessary for an effective CSR policy.
- Awareness creation: Rewards and measures are key in creating an organizational culture that is sensitive to CSR. Many articles report that key stakeholders are less aware of CSR performance than the sponsoring organization should prefer.
Medium to Long-term Strategies:
- Stakeholder involvement: Here public relations practitioners can, for instance, change the focus from financial reporting and investor relations to include social issues and relationship building with all key publics. Smith (2003) indicated that such stakeholder engagement should be at the core of designing any CSR strategy. Lack of awareness about a firm’s obligations to its stakeholders can produce a legitimacy gap. Therefore, stakeholders’ engagement is more likely to lead to informed management thinking and decision making. Given the foreseeable difficulties in this process (such as a lack of skill set and openness of the management), diverse perspectives of stakeholders and management, and the unwillingness of certain stakeholder groups to engage in such a dialogue, some firms hire talent from the non-profit sector.
- Corporate governance: Transparency and accountability are the key words. Shareholder activism is increasing and drives reform in the area of corporate law.
- Manage the message: Strategic CSR requires that stakeholder expectations are met in reality and that excessive self-promotion should be avoided otherwise CSR efforts fail to demonstrate the other interest or mutual interest orientation needed.
- Measure social performance: Smith (2003) suggested developing appropriate metrics, essentially benchmarks for measuring social and environmental performance and goal setting.
- Communication strategy guidelines: Framing strategies for communicating about corporate responsibility, Sims (1992) offered the following sage bits of advice: (a) Be realistic and do not promise what the organization or industry cannot deliver, (b) encourage organization or industry-wide input into the standards and the best means for accomplishing them (as well as the stumbling blocks), (c) allow diversity, (d) allow whistle-blowing, (e) provide ethics training, (f) recognize the ambiguity that is inherent in ethical standards and their implementation, and (g) integrate ethical decision making into employee and operating unit appraisal.
Summary: The CSR Ethics of a Fully Functioning Society
Public relations is ideally positioned to help organizations make communities more fully functioning because of its close interdependency with CSR. CSR is the means by which an organization is good first as a foundation for being an effective communicator. Organizational culture and character count. Both as a “listener” and communicator, public relations can aid organizations’ ability to foster mutually beneficial interests proactively as a problem solver rather than reactively as lessons learned.
The constructive role of public relations in CSR planning, implementation, and communication simply must be reflective (van Ruler & Vercic, 2005; see also, Black & Hartel, 2004 and Holmstrom, 2004). One size of CSR does not fit all. In such matters, “it depends” is not a stumbling block but a foundational principle.
Abbott, W. E, & Monsen, R. J. (1979). On the measurement of corporate social responsibility: Self-reported disclosures as a method of measuring corporate social involvement. Academy of Management Journal, 22, 501-515. This early study reviewed three types of published research to derive usable measures of corporate social activities, i.e., (1) social accounting, (2) reputational scales, and (3) content analysis of corporate publications. This study used the third method and examined the use of self-reported disclosures as a means of constructing a quantitative scale, identified as the Social Involvement Disclosure (SID) scale. The data in this article, the annual reports of the Fortune 500 companies, also showed effectively (1) the change over time of social involvement, (2) the direction and scope of this involvement, and (3) the effect of this involvement on corporate profitability.
Adger, W. N. (2003). Social conflict, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Economic Geography, 79, 387-404. This economist examined the impact social capital (as an individual and collective resource) has on the ability of society to resolve conflict and take collective action. Goodwill, as social capital, is an invaluable ingredient in decision making calling for extreme change.
Agle, B. R., Mitchell, R. K., & Sonnenfeld, J. A. (1999). Who matters to CEOs? An investigation of stakeholder attributes and salience, corporate performance, and CEO values. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 507-525. This article justified bringing the stakeholder voice into discussions of corporate social performance. It examined what kind of stakeholder groups (i.e., stakeholder attributes of power, legitimacy, urgency) will CEOs pay more attention to (stakeholder salience). Results supported the attribute-salience relationship and addressed relationships among CEO values, salience, and corporate social performance. However, it found no support for a salience-financial performance link, thus suggesting the need for continued development of normative stakeholder theory.
Aupperle, K. E., Carroll, A. B., & Hatfield, J. D. (1985). An empirical investigation of the relationship between corporate social responsibility and profitability. Academy of Management Journal, 28, 446-463. This is one of the early studies that found no relationship between CSR and profitability, i.e., different levels of social orientation did not correlate with the different levels of firm performance.
Barone, J. J., Miyazaki, A. D., & Taylor, K. A. (2000). The influence of cause related marketing on consumer choice: Does one good turn deserve another? Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, 29, 248-262. This article provides evidence that awareness of a businesses commitment to a cause increases its marketing impact.
Basu, K., & Palazzo, G. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: A process model of sensemaking. Academy of Management Review, 33, 122-136. Among other insights, these authors argued that academic discussions and management implementation of CSR requires understanding of three fundamental lines of CSR inquiry: Stakeholder driven, performance driven, and motivation driven. Based on what these perspectives tell us, the authors reason that a process approach to CSR is fundament to a content approach. How does the organization know CSR and implement it?
Beliveau, B., Cottrill, M., & O’Neill, H. M. (1994). Predicting corporate social responsiveness: A model drawn from three perspectives. Journal of Business Ethics, 13, 731-738. This study examined how factors such as industry norms, market share and indicators of management reputation predict variance in CSR. Different from studies that found no relationship between CSR and profit, this study found that CSR levels and their relationship with profit vary by industry. Various performance measures respond differently to CSR measures. Stock market measures lead CSR, while accounting measures lag CSR.
Bird, R., Hall, A. D., Momente, F., & Reggiani, F. (2007). What corporate social responsibility activities are valued by the market? Journal of Business Ethics, 76, 189-206. This article aimed to resolve the conflict between advocating solely for the interests of stockholders and for those of stakeholders. It this examined the relationship between a company’s positive (strengths) and negative (concerns) corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and equity performance. This study found that taking a wider stakeholder perspective will not necessarily jeopardize the interest of its stockholders, although different areas of CSR activities do make a difference in terms of market values. Their findings are that most recently firms generally do well in the market if they were most proactive in the area of employee-relations but do not go beyond the minimum requirements in the areas of diversity and environmental protection.
Black, L. D., & Hartel, C. E. J. (2004). The five capabilities of socially responsible organizations. Journal of Public Affairs, 4, 125-144. These authors establish a model which they test to determine the five capabilities of socially responsible organizations: Value-attuned public relations, stakeholder engagement, accountability, business ethics, and dialogue.
Blumenthal, D. & Bergstrom, A. J. (2003). Brand councils that care: Towards the convergence of branding and corporate social responsibility. Journal of Brand Management, 10 (4/5), 327-341. This article discusses the relationship between CSR and branding. Based on interviews with corporate and consultative brand practitioners, this paper describes the practice of the brand council. It also discusses the rationale for integrating brand council with CSR.
Bowen, S. A., & Heath, R. H. (2005). Issues management, systems, and rhetoric: Exploring the distinction between ethical and legal guidelines at Enron. Journal of Public Affairs, 5, 1-5. Using Enron as a case study, this article discusses how Enron violated ethical and legal standard in its business practices. The authors reasoned that an organization must be good internally and make decisions from an outside-in perspective.
Bowie, N. (1991). New directions in corporate social responsibility. Business Horizons, 34(4), 56-65. Rather than narrowing the scope of the discussion, he believed that as an academic topic as well as a management function, CSR needed to be structured on reciprocity and founded on moral pluralism. He reasoned that CSR includes the duty to solve social problems, not merely or primarily for the good of the organization but for the common good.
Buchholz, R. A. (1991). Corporate responsibility and the good society: From economics to ecology. Business Horizons, 34(4), 19-31. Buchholz is one of many writers who prefers corporate responsibility, without social as a modifier. He was one of the first to connect CR and sustainability.
Burke, K. (1934, May 2). The meaning of C. K. Ogden. New Republic, 78, 328-331. Burke offered insights into ways that flaws in language produce flaws in society.
Burke, K. (1973). The philosophy of literary form. (3rd. ed.) Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. This is one of several books by the esteemed Kenneth Burke that examines language as a foundation for understanding and judging human individual and collective social action.
Burke, L. & Logsdon, J. M. (1996). How corporate social responsibility pays off. Long Range Planning, 29, 495-502. This article identified five key dimensions of strategic CSR: centrality (closeness of fit to the firm’s mission and objectives), specificity (ability to capture private benefits by the firm), proactivity (degree to which the program is planned in anticipation of emerging social trends and in the absence of crisis), voluntarism (the scope for discretionary decision-making and the lack of externally imposed compliance requirements), and visibility (observable, recognizable credit by internal and/or external stakeholders for the firm).
Carroll, A. B. (1979). A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4, 497-505. The author suggested three distinct aspects of corporate social performance: (1) A definition of social responsibility (i.e., Does our responsibility go beyond economic and legal concerns?) (2) An enumeration of the issues for which social responsibility exists (i.e., What are the social areas – environment, product safety, discrimination, etc. – in which we have a responsibility?) (3) A specification of the philosophy of response (i.e., Do we react to each issues or proact?)
Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons, 34(4), 39-48. Carroll, one of the most noted and enduring discussants of CSR noted that managements had been struggling with this challenge for 30 years in this article which is now 17 years old. The weighing of the nature of CSR and its constructive/destructive impact on business practices can through reflective management achieve a balance of interests: Philanthropic, ethical, legal, and economic. These are not at odds but interdependent challenges. Managers are challenged to be moral rather than amoral or immoral in their planning and operations.
definitional construct. Business and Society, 38, 268-295. This article examined the evolution of the concept of corporate social responsibility, the ways it is defined, and how it is studied. This work suggests that the term lacks consensus, but focuses on continuing challenges to know and achieve ever-higher standards of corporate performance and business ethics.
Carroll, A. B., & Buchholtz, A. K. (2000). Business and society: Ethics and stakeholder management. Cincinnati: Thomson Learning. Written by two eminent scholars, this book is one of the classics in CSR/business ethics. The book reasons that effective management presumes a proactive attention to the concerns and expectations of stakeholders.
Chrisman, J. J., & Carroll, A. B. (1984). SMR forum: Corporate responsibility—reconciling economic and social goals. Sloan Management Review, 25(4), 59-65. These authors confronted discussants of CSR 25 years ago with the stark reality that if they do not believe standards change and can be imposed through government, they should merely wait and witness changing influences on best business practices. Companies should take on more of the responsibility for what government regulation has been expected to achieve if they want to reduce criticism and assume on a positive mantle of corporate responsibility.
Clark, C. E. (2000). Differences between public relations and corporate social responsibility: An analysis. Public Relations Review, 26, 363-380. Clark compares CSR and public relations to show how the disciplines are interconnected but not identical. She believes that public relations can play a constructive role in engaging in stakeholder analysis and managing stakeholder relationships.
Clarkson, M. B. E. (1995). A stakeholder framework for analyzing and evaluating corporate social performance. Academy of Management Review, 20, 92-117. This article presents conclusions from a 10-year research program and draws some principal conclusions: (1) It is necessary to distinguish between stakeholder issues and social issues because corporations and their managers manage relationships with their stakeholders and not with society. (2) It is possible to analyze and evaluate both the social performance of a corporation and the performance of its managers in managing the corporation’s responsibilities to, and relationships with, its stakeholders.
Clegg, S. R., Courpasson, D., & Phillips, N. (2006). Power and organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. This book offers a provocative philosophy that organization/organizing depends on language and meaning as each management team balances efforts to achieve efficiency in a climate where multiple players compete to define power that can foster or constrain the efforts to maximize efficiency.
Cornwell, T. B., & Coote, L. V. (2005). Corporate sponsorship of a cause: The role of identification in purchase intent. Journal of Business Research, 58, 268-276. This article provides empirical support for the proposition that if consumers know of a positive identification between a business and a cause they favor they will prefer to do business with the company.
Dalton, D. R., & Cosier, R. A. (1982). The four faces of social responsibility. Business Horizons, 25(3), 19-27. The article suggested two dimensions (illegal vs. legal, and responsible vs. irresponsible) to form four areas of CSR: illegal and irresponsible, legal and irresponsible, illegal and responsible, legal and responsible).
Dalton, D. R., & Daily, C. M. (1991). The constituents of corporate responsibility: Separate, but not separable, interests? Business Horizons, 34(4), 74-78. Consideration of “societal” expenses should underpin discussion of and decisions about R&D and advertising.
David, P., Kline, S., & Dai, Y. (2005). Corporate social responsibility practice, corporate identity, and purchase intention: A dual-process model. Journal of Public Relations Research, 17, 291-313. These authors found a correlation between CSR practice, corporate identity, and purchase intention. They also noted that the model features different relationships between the key variables for each of the four companies used in the study: Microsoft, Wendy’s, Nike, and Phillip Morris.
Davis, K. (1973). The case for and against business assumption of social responsibilities. Academy of Management Journal, 1, 312-322. Arguments for CSR: long-run self interest, public image, viability of businesses, avoidance of government regulations, sociocultural norms, stockholder interest, let business try (when other institutions failed to handle social problems), business has the resources, problems can become profits, prevention is better than curing. Arguments against CSR: profit maximization, costs of social involvement, lack of social skills, dilution of business’s primary purpose, weakened international balance of payments (U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage for working on the social problems), business has enough power, lack of accountability, lack of broad support.
Donaldson, T. & Preston, L. E. (1995). The stakeholder theory of the corporation: Concepts, evidence, and implications. Academy of Management Review, 20, 65-91. This article explains three features of the stakeholder theory: descriptive accuracy, instrumental power, and normative validity which are interdependent. Stakeholder theory presents the corporation as a constellation of cooperative and competitive interests each of which is based on seeking benefit from its relationship with the organization. This view is preferred to the input/output view of management because it is normative and accepts the following premises: (a) Stakeholders are persons or groups with legitimate interests in procedural and/or substantive aspects of corporate activity. Each group of stakeholders merits consideration for its own sake and not merely because of its ability to further the interests of some other group, such as the shareowners. The requirement of simultaneous attention to stakeholder interests does not necessarily resolve the problem of identifying stakeholders or their “stakes” in the corporation. The theory does not imply that all stakeholders (however they may be identified) should be equally involved in all processes and decisions.
Dunn, C. P. (1991). Are corporations inherently wicked? Business Horizons, 34(4), 3-8. The article answers the question in its title by reasoning that corporations are not wicked when their managements are committed to earn their franchise by operating in the public interest.
Elkington, J. (1994). Towards a sustainable corporation: Win-win-win business strategies for sustainable development. California Management Review, 36(2), 90-100. This article argued for a positive connection between commitment to sustainability and organizational success.
Ellen, P. S., Webb, D. J., & Mohr, L. A. (2006). Building corporate associations: Consumer attributions for corporate socially responsible programs. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 34, 147-157. These researchers found that consumer attitudes and beliefs about CSR standards/performance are subtle and complex rather than general and simple. In general, they respond positively to CSR efforts which are altruistic and negatively to those that are self-serving.
Epstein, E. M. (1987). The corporate social policy process: Beyond business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and corporate social responsiveness. California Management Review, 29, 99-114. This author reasons that corporate social policy analysis is a systematic process for considering internal and external stakeholders’ interests, relationships, concerns, issues, norms, values, goals, decision making, policy implementation and evaluation.
One of the pioneers in the development of issues management, Ewing believed that it is was more than “public relations” and a requirement for successful senior executives. One of his key themes was the each business succeeds and fails depending on its ability to optimize the interests of its stakeholders.
Frederick, W. C. (1986). Toward CSR3: Why ethical analysis is indispensable and unavoidable in corporate affairs. California Management Review, 28(4), 126-141. This is a classic article that reasons CSR occurs in a hierarchy leading from responsibility, through responsiveness, to rectitude.
Frederick, W. C. (1998). Moving to CSR4: What to pack for the trip. Business and Society, 37, 40-59. This article argues that the traditional CSR 1-2-3 (CSR1, responsibility, CSR2, responsiveness, CSR3, rectitude) has put the organization in the center of our attention, and the society becomes something that revolves around the corporations. To break away from such a corporate focus, the author suggested CSR4. Borrowing concepts from natural sciences, the C stands for Cosmos (decentering corporations), S stands for Sciences (including other sciences than social and behavioral sciences), and R stands for Religion.
Frederick, W. C., & Weber, J. (1990). The values of corporate managers and their critics: An empirical description and normative implications. In W. C. Frederick & L. E. Preston (Eds.), Business ethics: Research issues and empirical studies (pp. 123-144). Greenwich, CT: JAI. This is a substantial discussion of the challenges of responsibility, responsiveness, and rectitude.
Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Boston: Pitman. This classic work pioneered discussion of incorporating stakeholder relationship and impact analysis into strategic management, including effective and proactive public affairs.
Freeman, R. E., & Liedtka, J. (1991). Corporate social responsibility: A critical approach. Business Horizons, 34(4), 92-98. Freeman laid the intellectual foundation for a stakeholder approach to management that gave a productive rationale for the proactive role of public relations in relationship building and issues management. In this article, the case is made that CSR could serve to bring capitalism into a more positive role in society, but as of 1991, these authors believed that it had failed to do so. This failure results because companies do not appreciate/respect their stakeholders and respond to them beyond purely economic transactions. Given this observation, these authors offer seven reasons why the concept should be abandoned.
Friedman, M. (1970, September 13). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times, pp. 122-126. Here Friedman stated his famous premise that the only responsibility of business is to make profits.
Gildea, R. L. (1994-1995). Consumer survey confirms corporate social action affects buying decisions. Public Relations Quarterly, 39(4), 20-21. This article reports survey results regarding how a business’s social performance affects decisions by customers, employees, and investors. The quality of business practices is the most important factor in business relationships.
Greening, D. W. & Gray, B. (1994). Testing a model of organizational response to social and political issues. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 467-498. This study developed and tested a conceptual model explaining variability in the organizational structures firms develop to identify, analyze, and respond to their social and political environments. Of particular interest to practitioners is the finding that issues management is both an institutional response and a strategic adaptation to external pressures. However, institutional constraints appeared to limit managerial discretion over corporate social responses. The authors proposed a new contingency model consisting of the relationship among environmental and organizational contingencies, response choices, and corporate social performance.
Grunig, J. E. (1979). A new measure of public opinions on corporate social responsibility. Academy of Management Journal, 22, 738-764. This study is one of the earlier efforts in public relations to facilitate the CSR auditing process. It used situational theory to explain the communication behavior and attitudes of publics arising around issues of CSR. The study helped managers to select certain social issues for attention and auditing as well as plan a communication program to inform publics about responsible corporate acts.
Heath, R. L. (Ed.) (1988). Strategic issues management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This book examined the emerging discipline of strategic issues management through the voices of many of the leaders of the efforts to advance the cause of the discipline, including those who were having a profound influence on the discussion of business ethics and CSR: Rogene A. Buchholz and James Post. Other voices in the book were specialists on bringing issues into management discussions and forging positive responses through management policy and communication. This book helped to establish the four pillars of issues management: Strategic business planning, issues monitoring, corporate social responsibility, and issues communication.
Heath, R. L. (1997). Strategic issues management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. This volume places CR into partnership with strategic business planning, issues monitoring, and issues communication as the four pillars—the four functions—that make organizations successful in their complex private and public policy environments.
Heath, R. L. (2001). A rhetorical enactment rationale for public relations: The good organization communicating well. In R. L. Heath (Ed.), Handbook of public relations (pp. 31-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. In its discussion of the connections between the rhetorical heritage and public relations, this chapter features the paradigm of the good organization that communicates well—an extension of the classic model of the excellent speaker as the “good man who speaks well.”
Heath, R. L. (2006). Onward into more fog: Thoughts on public relations research directions. Journal of Public Relations Research, 18, 93-114. This article proposes a theoretical advance in public relations that offers premises supporting the conclusion that public relations serves best when it helps all key entities to work in cooperation to make society more fully functioning to serve their collective needs.
Heath, R. L. (2007a). Management through advocacy. In E. L. Toth (Ed.), The future of excellence in public relations and communication management: Challenges for the next generation (pp. 41-65). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. This chapter argues that advocacy is a positive, not negative, factor in the ability of managements to learn, understand, and contest issues and the standards by which their organizations are judged.
Heath, R. L., & Coombs, W. T. (2002). Today’s public relations: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. This public relations principles text features, among other topics, the conditions needed for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Heerema, D. L, & Giannini, R. (1991). Business organizations and the sense of community. Business Horizons, 34(4), 87-91. These authors reason that a sense of communal spirit must define relationships rather than exploitation. Thus, community evolves through moral commitment.
Heineman, B. W. Jr. (2005, June 28). Are you a good citizen? Wall Street Journal, p. B2. This opinion piece features the CSR objectives and processes of General Electric to be a good citizen. It argues that the only way business can connect/reconnect with its constituents is to create a sense of community which brings the various interests of these constituents together and in alignment with those of business.
Hess, D., Rogovsky, N., & Dunfee, T. W. (2002). The next wave of corporate community involvement: Corporate social initiatives. California Management Review, 44 (2), 110-125. This article identified three broadly-defined categories of drivers behind CSI programs: The Competitive Advantage Factor (building reputation assets, international expansion); The New Moral Marketplace Factor (based on a social contracts analysis, the existence of morality within markets creates certain obligations for corporate management, social reporting, peer pressure); The Comparative Advantage Factor (potential comparative advantage of business over governments or non-profits to provide assistance in solving certain social problems). The article also suggested a few guidelines when designing CSI.
Herremans, I. M., Akathaporn, P., & McInnes, M. (1993). An investigation of corporate social responsibility reputation and economic performance. Accounting, Organizations, & Society, 18, 587-604. This study found a positive correlation between business reputation and financial performance.
Hill, J. W. (1958). Corporate public relations: Arm of modern management. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. This is one of two books in which John W. Hill discussed the social responsibility of organizations as one of the essential foundations of successful public relations. His arguments can inspire practitioners to see a proactive rather than reactive role for public relations in matters of the societal acceptance of businesses and their practices.
Holmstrom, S. (2004). The reflective paradigm of public relations. In B. van Ruler & D. Vercic (Eds.), Public relations and communication management in Europe (pp. 121-133). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter. This author reasons that reflection, being polycontextural, makes organizations more reflective as they aspire to achieve and demonstrate their legitimacy.
Hosmer, L. T (1991). Managerial responsibilities on the micro level. Business Horizons, 34(4), 49-55. This author reasoned that however instructive a macrolevel analysis of CSR is, ultimately, individuals are individually accountable for specific actions relevant to each organization’s standards of performance.
Ihlen, O. (2005). The power of social capital: Adapting Bourdieu to the study of public relations. Public Relations Review, 31, 492-496. Ihlen used Bourdieu’s concept of the power of social capital to advise organizations that relationship quality is a power resource to be gained or lost.
Jackson, C, & Bundgard, T. (2002). Achieving quality in social reporting: The role of surveys in stakeholder consultation. Business Ethics: A European Review, 11, 253-259. The authors reported a useful framework for using surveys in stakeholder consultation for the purpose of improving social reporting.
Johnson, R. A. & Greening, D. W. (1999). The effects of corporate governance and institutional ownership types on corporate social performance. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 564-576. This article differentiated between aspects of corporate social performance and tested their relationships with various factors: The effects of institutional investor types (pension fund equity versus mutual and investment bank funds) and governance devices (outside director representation and top management equity) on two dimensions of corporate social performance (CSP), the people dimension (he community, women and minorities, and employee relations) and product dimension (product and service quality and to a firm’s stance toward the natural environment).
Kotler, R., & Lee, N. (2005). Corporate social responsibility. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. These authors feature a marketing perspective championing CSR as a means for making a business more attractive to customers. They find a positive trend in increased corporate giving, more reporting of CSR efforts, development of corporate social norms to do good, and a move from doing good as an obligation to doing it strategically to achieve corporate or brand differentiation.
Lantos, G. P. (2001). The boundaries of strategic corporate social responsibility. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 18, 595-630. This article distinguished between ethical, altruistic, and strategic CSR. It basically agrees with Friedman that altruistic CSR is not a legitimate role of businesses, but ethical CSR is mandatory and strategic CSR is good for both society and corporations.
Lee, M-D, P. (2008). A review of the theories of corporate social responsibility: Its evolutionary path and the road ahead. International Journal of Management Reviews, 10, 53-73. This discussion offers a useful and comprehensive review of theories and concepts in CSR.
Luo, X., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2006). Corporate responsibility, customer satisfaction, and market value. Journal of Marketing, 70-1-18. These authors reasoned that CSR initiatives with stated financial, marketing, and communication objectives can enhance company visibility, enhance customer satisfaction, and generate positive financial gain.
McWilliams, A. (2001). Corporate social responsibility: A theory of the firm perspective. Academy of Management Review, 26, 117-128. This article suggests several factors (including size, level of diversification, research and development, advertising, government sales, consumer income, labor market conditions, and stage in the industry life cycle) that will influence a firm’s level of CSR. Based on a supply and demand model of CSR, the author suggested that there is an “ideal” level of CSR, which managers can determine via cost-benefit analysis. The study concluded that there is a neutral relationship between CSR and financial performance.
Mahon, J. F., & McGowan, R. A. (1991). Searching for the common good: A process-oriented approach. Business Horizons, 34(4), 79-86. These authors believe that “making society better” is the unifying theme of discussions of CSR. It is a process-oriented approach leading to the common good.
Makower, J. (1994). Beyond the bottom line: Putting social responsibility to work for your business and the world. New York: Simon & Schuster. This book offers evidence that CSR is good business.
Middlemiss, N. (December 2003/January 2004). Communicating CSR to the financial community. Strategic Communication Management, 8, 22-25. This article provides some practical guidelines for designing CSR reports, the do’s and don’ts about communicating about CSR, and the kind of companies with a greater need to pursue CSR.
Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1997). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts. Academy of Management Review, 22, 853-886. This is one of major articles discussing the identification of stakeholders. Essentially stakeholders possess one or more of three relationship attributes: Power, legitimacy, and urgency. These attributes are combined to generate a typology of stakeholders that may require different kinds of attention from organizations.
Murray, K. B. & Vogel, C. M. (1997). Using a hierarchy-of-effects approach to gauge the effectiveness of corporate social responsibility to generate goodwill toward the firm: Financial versus non-financial impacts. Journal of Business Research, 38 (2), 141-159. Aiming to fill in the gap in models that encourage CSR and offer evaluation of the impact of CSR activities, this article describes why and how prosocial activities of the firm should be managed and evaluated using a market-relevant paradigm. The study used a hierarchy-of-effects technique to assess the impact on attitudes and behaviors of stakeholders.
Ogden, S. & Watson, R. (1999). Corporate performance and stakeholder management: Balancing shareholder and customer interests in the U. K. privatized water industry. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 526-538. This study examined a major contention of stakeholder theory: A firm can simultaneously enhance the interests of its shareholders and other relevant stakeholders. The results showed that shareholder returns were significantly and positively related to improving customer service performance required after privatization of U. K. water industry.
Porter, M. & Kramer, M. (2002). The competitive advantage of corporate philanthropy. Harvard Business Review, 80(12), 57-68. These authors report that corporate philanthropy is declining as a percentage of profits. Even what managements use strategic philanthropy, it is likely not to be a strategic as management believes. For philanthropy to be more strategic and more in turn with CSR expectations, it needs to address much more the nexus of company and stakeholder interests. Usually the efforts are biased less to stakeholder than to organization. If done correctly, there is no inherent conflict between efforts to improve the competitive context and improve society, contrary to Friedman’s concern.
Post, J. E. (1991). Managing as if the earth mattered. Business Horizons, 34(4), 32-38. His emphasis on the role of environmental responsibility is a strong companion argument to that on sustainability by Buchholz in the same issue.
Rawlins, B. L. (2005). Corporate social responsibility. In R. L. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopedia of public relations (pp. 210-214). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. This entry treats CSR as a major function to which public relations can add value in the planning and execution of such organizational efforts.
Roberts, R. W. (1992). Determinants of corporate social responsibility disclosure: An application of stakeholder theory. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 17, 595-612. This study empirically tests the ability of stakeholder theory to explain one specific CSR activity – social responsibility disclosure. Results indicated that measures of stakeholder power, strategy posture, and economic performance are significantly related to levels of corporate social disclosure.
Rochlin, S., Witter, K., Monaghan, P., & Murray, V. (2005). Putting the corporate into corporate responsibility. In P. Raymond (Ed.), Accountability forum: Corporate responsibility and core business (pp. 5-13). London: Greenleaf Publishing. These authors found that building business strategy that aligns social, environmental, and economic performance fosters long-term business and societal value.
Sen, S., & Bhattacharya, C. B. ( 2001). Does doing good always lead to doing better? Consumer reactions to corporate social responsibility. Journal of Marketing Research, 38, 225-244. These researchers discovered that known CSR performance can increase marketing clout if it relates to product quality and/or consumers’ personal preference views on key social issues. This study suggests that aligned interest is crucial to and accountable for positive impact of CSR. CSR performance enhances business relationships when consumers see an alignment of their interests and character with that of the company. Lack of such alignment or misalignment can reduce purchase intention.
Sen, S., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Korschun, D. (2006). The role of corporate social responsibility in strengthening multiple stakeholder relationships: A field experiment. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34, 158-166. These researchers report findings from a survey of the impact of corporate philanthropy on CSR and on consumers. They found that consumers are often only minimally aware of such programs Increased awareness of CSR performance that consumers approved increased willingness to buy from, as well as increased attractiveness as a place to work and an organization in which to invest.
Sethi, S. P. (Spring 1975). Dimensions of corporate social performance: An analytic framework. California Management Review, 17, 58-64. This article suggested using the concept of legitimacy to evaluate corporate social performance. Corporate behavior can thus be viewed as a three-state phenomenon based on the changing notion of legitimacy from very narrow to broad. Corporate behavior can be defined as social obligation (this concept is proscriptive in nature; the traditional economic and legal criteria are necessary but not sufficient conditions of corporate legitimacy), social responsibility (this concept is prescriptive in nature), or social responsiveness (this concept is anticipatory and preventive in nature).
Sethi, S. P. (1979). A conceptual framework for environmental analysis of social issues and evaluation of business response patterns. Academy of Management Review, 4, 63-74. Following Sethi (1975), this article provides a conceptual framework to analyze and evaluate business response patterns along three dimensions (corporate behavior as social obligation, social responsibility, and social responsiveness). The external environment is analyzed according to four categories: the pre-problem stage, the problem identification stage, the remedy and relief stage, and the prevention stage.
Sims, R. (2003). Ethics and corporate social responsibility: Why giants fall. Westport, CT: Praeger. Organizations might not get all of the favorable response to CSR that management might desire, but failure to know and meet such standards can harm even the most powerful and ostensibly successful companies.
Smith, N. C. (2003). Corporate social responsibility: Whether or how? California Management Review, 45 (4), 52-76. This article offers practical guidelines for developing the right CSR strategy, especially regarding stakeholder engagement and measurement of social performance.
Stovall, O. S., Neill, J. D., & Perkins, D. (2004). Corporate governance, internal decision making, and the invisible hand Journal of Business Ethics, 51, 221-227. This article offers theoretical rationale for taking into account stakeholder interests when designing corporate governance. Acknowledging that the shareholder focused perspective derived from Adam Smith’s notion of the Invisible Hand, these authors argue that the traditional interpretation of Smith is too narrow and potentially harmful to society. They used Smith’s work (The Theory of Moral Sentiments) where he indicated other motivations for human action than the pursuit of self-interest as well as the existence of a ‘‘sympathy principle.” A broader, multiple stakeholder approach to corporate governance, is a better reflection of the fact that human beings also reflexively consider the interests of others when making decisions.
van Ruler, B., & Vercic, D. (2005). Reflective communication management: Future ways for public relations research. In P. J. Kalbfleisch (Ed.), Communication yearbook, 29 (pp. 239-273). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. van Ruler and Vercic emphasize the role of reflection in communication management. As such, reflective organizations continually assess the impact of what they do on others whose goodwill and support the organization needs for legitimacy because of its resource dependency.
Wartick, S. L., & Cochran, P. L. (1985). The evolution of corporate responsibility model. Academy of Management Review, 10, 759-769. These authors reason that the narrowness of profit motive as the basis of CSR (or its nemesis) fails to realize the interrelatedness of political, social, and financial forces.
Watson, C. E. (1991). Managing with integrity: Social responsibilities of business as seen by America’s CEOs. Business Horizons, 34(4), 99-109. This article reasons that integrity must be one of the underpinnings of managers’ ability to achieve social responsibility. This can be accomplished by assuring that each business within its mission and vision serve others’ interest to achieve well-being.
Weissman, G. (1984). Social responsibility and corporate success. Business and Society Review, 51, 67-68. In an era when serious thinkers questioned whether business could lead society, this author, a tobacco industry executive, addressed the virtue of giving back to the community where an organization operates. He says that even if it is difficult to measure the advantage to an organization in marketing and issues debates, “it hasn’t hurt.”
Werder, K. P. (2008), The effect of doing good: An experimental analysis of the influence of corporate social responsibility initiatives on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intention. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 2, 115-135. Her experimental design found that knowledge of CSR initiatives can foster salient beliefs about the company, but do not predict attitudes toward it or behavior intention.
Werther, Jr. W. B., & Chandler, D. (2006). Strategic corporate social responsibility. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. This book provides an overview of strategic CSR. It offers some good contemporary case studies in corporate CSR.
Wood, D. J. (1991). Toward improving corporate social performance. Business Horizons, 34(4), 66-73. Managers must learn and be able to ask the right questions if they are going to help their organization to foster the good society.