Pluralism in Political Corporate Social Responsibility

Business Ethics Quarterly 22 (4):649-678 (2012)
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Abstract

Within corporate social responsibility (CSR), the exploration of the political role of firms (political CSR) has recently experienced a revival. We review three key periods of political CSR literature—classic, instrumental, and new political CSR—and use the Rawlsian conceptualization of division of moral labor within political systems to describe each period’s background political theories. The three main arguments of the paper are as follows. First, classic CSR literature was more pluralistic in terms of background political theories than many later texts. Second, instrumental CSR adopted classical liberalism and libertarian laissez-faire as its structural logic. Third, new political CSR, based on a strong globalist transition of responsibilities and tasks from governments to companies, lacks a conceptualization of division of moral labor that is needed to fully depart from a classical liberalist position. We end by providing a set of recommendations to develop pluralism in political CSR

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