Public relations and corporate social responsibility: Some issues arising [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 13 (2):111 - 123 (1994)
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Abstract

The paper questions current assumptions about the benefits of corporate social responsibility and the claims that corporations make on behalf of their corporate social responsibility programmes. In particular, the paper suggests that the use of corporate social responsibility for public relations ends raises moral problems over the motivation of corporations. The paper cautions that the justifications which corporations employ may either be immoral or inaccurate with regard to the empirical evidence gained from a small-scale qualitative study carried out in the UK at a time when the practice of corporate social responsibility was expanding quickly (1989). It is noticeable, in retrospect, that great emphasis is placed upon environmental rather than social responsibility. This implies that organisations are primarily reactive in their development of corporate social responsibility programmes and that they respond to external pressures rather than working out the nature of their corporate responsibilities. It might suggest that corporations only take such actions when they feel compelled to do so by consumerist and environmentalist lobbies. The paper argues that corporations do need to find moral justifications for their moral activities and to ensure that corporate social responsibility practice lives up to the claims made by public relations practitioners. The paper explores the nature of public relations and illustrates how its responsibility for corporate social responsibility extends beyond truthfulness in publicity.

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