Blog by Chris MacDonald: Why the "C" in "CSR"?

Blog by Chris MacDonald: Why the "C" in "CSR"?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 - 11:15am


"CSR" stands for "Corporate Social Responsibility." Just what "Corporate Social Responsibility" itself means is subject to more than a little debate within CSR circles. There's no clear definition, though there seems to be rough agreement that it has something to do with corporations, and their social responsibilities.

(I've blogged before about problems with CSR: Down With CSR! Up With Business Ethics!)

Today's question: Why is there a "C" in "CSR?" That is, why is CSR about specifically Corporate social responsibilities? To see why the "C" is odd, it's important to note that not all businesses are corporations, and that at least some (maybe not all) CSR advocates define CSR in such a way that it at least seems relevant to all commercial organizations. (At least one CSR textbook goes so far as to define "business ethics" as a sub-topic within CSR.) Certainly lots of CSR advocates take the term to be at least roughly equivalent to, and perhaps a superior replacement for, the term "business ethics." So why the focus on corporations in particular, rather than businesses in general?


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