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Corporate social responsibility: not whether, but how

This paper examines the challenges of Corporate social responsibility using the pharmaceutical and resource industries as examples. By N Craig Smith.

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new idea. It has had widespread support over the last forty years—albeit sporadically and with some debate—and its central tenet, that business has societal obligations, was familiar to enlightened industrialists of the mid-nineteenth century.

However, CSR has never been more prominent on the corporate agenda than it is today.

This paper identifies the pressures for increased corporate attention to CSR and shows why the recent rise to prominence of CSR is likely to be sustained, though not without its critics. Although there are grounds for legitimate concern, most firms and especially global corporations need to make a substantial commitment to CSR. This in itself involves major challenges with respect to the form, scope and implementation of CSR programs.

For some firms, however, the challenges are greater still. Using the pharmaceutical and resource industries as examples, it is suggested that we may be entering a new phase, where CSR is at the core of business strategy.

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ISBN Number: 02-704

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