The Business Need for Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR makes for eminent business sense as well when one considers the knock-on effect that social and environmental responsibility brings to the businesses. For instance, corporations exist in a symbiotic relationship with their environments (the term environment refers to all the components of the external environment and not to ecological environment alone) where their exchange with the larger environment determines to a large extent how well they do in their profit seeking endeavours.

When one considers the fact that the RBV or the Resource Based View of the firm is all about how well the firm exists in harmony with its external environment and how this exchange of inputs and outputs with the environment determines the quality of its operations, it can be inferred that socially responsible business practices are indeed in the interest of the firm and the argument against imposing hidden social taxes on the firms by undertaking socially responsible business practices might not hold good in the current business landscape.

Indeed, the world since the days of Friedman has changed so much that socially responsible business practices ought to be the norm rather the exception and the various readings surveyed for this paper do seem to indicate that it is high time for businesses to engage in responsible behaviour.

However, there is a tendency to treat CSR as yet another cost of business and hence be business like about the practice. So, mainstreaming the idea might not bring the desirable effect unless the media, the businesses, and the citizens themselves understand what is at stake and behave accordingly. Paying lip service or corporatizing the idea of CSR might not be the intended outcome of the proponents and the advocacy groups that promote this idea. Rather, a change in the mindset and attitude is what these groups have in mind when they push for socially responsible practices.

It has been mentioned elsewhere that CSR as a concept and as a paradigm ought to be woven into the DNA of the corporations and when the very fabric resonates with the threads of social responsibility; the goals of conscious capitalism and compassionate corporations would be realized.

Hence, a cautionary finger wagging is due for those who believe that since the concept of CSR has been mainstreamed, they can relax in the knowledge that corporations would do the rest. Given the history of profit seeking and mercantilist behaviour where fads and ideas come and go but the very nature of the corporations mutates rather than undergoes a fundamental change, we still have some distance to cover before the goals of the idea of CSR are achieved. Further, we should not end up in a situation where the imperatives of the 21st century force corporations to change their behaviour. Instead, a voluntary mindset change is something that is better suited given the vast resources that corporations have and which they deploy to resist change and thwart those that push for legislation that aims to do so.


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