Corporate Social Responsibility and Its Role in Community Development: An International Perspective Essay

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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND ITS ROLE IN COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Maimunah ISMAIL•
Abstract
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to strategies corporations or firms conduct their business in a way that is ethical, society friendly and beneficial to community in terms of development. This article analyses the meaning of CSR based on some theories available in literature. It is argued that three theories namely utilitarian, managerial and relational theories of CSR supported by works of other scholars in the area could be used to suggest that CSR becomes an international concern due to globalized nature of business that knows no border. CSR is evolving in its meaning and practice. The article then discusses the role of CSR in community development because the very logic of CSR is towards seeing its impact in community socially, environmentally and economically. Competencies required by CSR managers are also analyzed in order to have a better understanding of the practical aspects of CSR. Finally, conclusions and implications for future research are discussed.
Key Words: Corporate social responsibility, community development, competencies of CSR managers, multinational corporations, corporate-society relations.
Introduction
The issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been debated since the 1950s. Latest analyses by Secchi (2007) and Lee (2008) reported that the definition of CSR has been changing in meaning and practice. The classical view of CSR was narrowly limited to philanthropy and then shifted to the emphasis on business-society relations particularly referring to the contribution that a corporation or firm provided for solving social problems. In the early twentieth century, social performance was tied up with market performance. The pioneer of this view, Oliver Sheldon (1923, cited in Bichta, 2003), however, encouraged management to take the initiative in raising both ethical standards and justice in society through the ethic of economizing, i.e. economize the use of resources under the name of efficient resource mobilization and usage. By doing so, business creates wealth in society and provides better standards of living. The present-day CSR (also called corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business and corporate social opportunity) is a concept whereby business organizations consider the interest of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders as well as their environment. This obligation shows that the organizations have to comply with legislation and voluntarily take initiatives to improve the well-being of their employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.
CSR simply refers to strategies corporations or firms conduct their business in a way that is ethical and society friendly. CSR can involve a range of activities such as working in partnership with local communities, socially sensitive investment, developing relationships with employees, customers and their families, and involving in activities for environmental conservation and sustainability.
This article aims to analyze three theories of CSR namely utilitarian, managerial and relational in terms of their meaning and practical emphases. These groups of theories are chosen because they are interdisciplinary in nature covering aspects of economic system, the managerial aspects of the corporation


Professor, Department of Professional Development and Continuing Education, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra
Malaysia

Uluslararası Sosyal Ara tırmalar Dergisi
The Journal of International Social Research
Volume 2 / 9 Fall 2009

- 200 and the beneficiaries. The paper then highlights the role of CSR in community development based on an international perspective due to the heterogeneity of CSR in its understanding and practices in…