Though the relationship between business and society has been widely studied for decades, there are varying perspectives in the literature of a corporation’s responsibility to society, and many corporate managers have struggled with the issue of a corporation’s responsibility to a broader range of stakeholders beyond its shareholders. Contemporary advocates of corporate social responsibility (CSR) argue that business organizations have a responsibility not only to their respective shareholders but also to other stakeholders, such as, employees, customers’ suppliers, and the community in general, among others. However, a conservative view of corporate social responsibility (CSR) suggests that the only true purpose of a corporation is to generate maximum profits and promote the interests of its shareholders within the law by responding effectively to market demand through the production of goods or services. Though there is no singular universally accepted definition of CSR in the literature, in this descriptive and theoretical research paper, I synthesize the literature and identify many different forms of definitions of CSR from the point of view of various researchers. In this paper, I also attempt to further the theoretical debate about corporate social responsibility (CSR) by highlighting the main components and theories of CSR in the literature. Thereafter, I articulate the business case for CSR or the justification why business executives may be motivated to allocate resources to engage in CSR activities. I conclude this paper by outlining its contributions.
Keywords: Competitive Advantage, Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Theory, corporate citizenship, shareholder theory, social contract, synergistic value creation
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