The changing role of governments in corporate social responsibility: Drivers and responses

Business Ethics 17 (4):347-363 (2008)
Abstract
The aim of this article is to contribute to understanding the changing role of government in promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR). Over the last decade, governments have joined other stakeholders in assuming a relevant role as drivers of CSR, working together with intergovernmental organizations and recognizing that public policies are key in encouraging a greater sense of CSR. This paper focuses on the analysis of the new strategies adopted by governments in order to promote, and encourage businesses to adopt, CSR values and strategies. The research is based on the analysis of an explanatory framework, related to the development of a relational analytical framework, which tries to analyze the vision, values, strategies and roles adopted by governments, and the integration of new partnerships that governments establish in the CSR area with the private sector and social organizations. The research compares CSR initiatives and public policies in three European countries: Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom, and focuses on governmental drivers and responses. The preliminary results demonstrate that governments are incorporating a common statement and discourse on CSR, working in partnership with the private and social sectors. For governments, CSR implies the need to manage a complex set of relationships in order to develop a win–win situation between business and social organizations. However, the research also focuses on the differences between the three governments when applying CSR public policies. These divergences are based on the previous cultural and political framework, such as the welfare state typology, the organizational structures and the business and social and cultural background in each country.
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