A recent literature applies economic reasoning to restrict corporate social responsibility (CSR) to profitable opportunities. The underlying theory of the firmassumes widespread public company ownership and a net positive contribution to social welfare in relatively unfettered markets. This modern economic approach posits strict fiduciary responsibility of agents. Management, in this fiduciary role, should have no CSR discretion beyond the requirements of minimalist laws and customary ethics. Any profitable CSR option can be undertaken. Any unprofitable CSR action is defined as discretionary altruism prohibited to fiduciary agents and recommended against for shareowners acting through the corporate form. The modern economic position shifts all unprofitable social issues into the sphere of public policy—which is then influenced by business on the basis of economic self-interest. There are two points of relaxation in this position. First, a firm may need to practice prudential altruism to forestall more costly action by governments and stakeholders. Second, management must consider productivity effects of employee sentiments about social issues and stakeholders
Keywords Business and Professional Ethics  Conference Proceedings  Social Science
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ISBN(s) 978-0-9763264-4-1
DOI iabsproc20061745
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