(Re)Defining Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond the "Business Case"
Sociology ISCTE Lisboa, Portugal
In spite of the ethical and moral background of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), in recent decades we have assisted to a shift in the CSR discourse that defends an instrumental approach to the notion, and puts in evidence the ?business case for CSR?.
In this sense it is argued that CSR must be understood not as an altruistic act, but as an integrated strategy that can bring real benefits, not only for the recipient of the policy but also (and more importantly) for the company it self, in a ?win-win? logic. CSR has become in this sense a strategic tool used, as many other, to achieve competitive advantage in an increasing complex world.
This approach to CSR can be demonstrated by the way corporate philanthropy and community involvement has evolved. Companies have had a long tradition of ?giving back? to community, but only recently we have witnessed a transformation in the way traditional philanthropy is carried out and justified by companies. This new line of approach in fact defends a more strategically approach to the companies social investments, more and more aligned with the core business of the company.
Instrumental CSR has become the norm in the field in a progressively explicit way. However, if we analyse in detail the companies? discourse about CSR we will find a much more diverse range of themes and justifications (moral/instrumental, personal/organizational, economic/political, etc.) witch articulate with each other in a more complex way than the field literature could lead to assume.
In this communication we will analyse the discourse of 27 companies? managers in charge of CSR projects with the aim of analysing how they justify CSR. Specifically we are interested in understanding how different kinds of justifications articulate at discourse level, if these articulations are explicit or implicit and in what way they can be contextualised in the (re)definition of the notion of CRS.