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The Anti-CSR View: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom. Outline of paper Arguments Opposing Social Responsibility Expressions of the Anti-CSR View The Economist’s Critique Evidence of Backlash and Abandonment Explanations of the Status of CSR The Concept of Conventional Wisdom

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the anti csr view challenging the conventional wisdom
The Anti-CSR View: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

Outline of paper

  • Arguments Opposing Social Responsibility
  • Expressions of the Anti-CSR View
  • The Economist’s Critique
  • Evidence of Backlash and Abandonment
  • Explanations of the Status of CSR
    • The Concept of Conventional Wisdom
    • Issue Life Cycle
  • Concluding Observations
expressions of the anti csr view
Expressions of the Anti-CSR View

Contemporary Media

  • Henderson’s Misguided Virtue: False Notions of Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR’s adoption threatens prosperity and undermines market economy.
  • The bourgeois virtues – prudence, honesty, reliability, self-control, courage to take risks, willingness to work hard.
  • CSR attempts to prevent corporations from profit making and encourages to engage in social exercises.
  • Bad press has put business on the defensive, and CSR gets nothing but good press.
  • Corporate “useful idiots” buy into CSR.
  • CSR a proposition which is impossible to argue.
  • “A plot to seize the political agenda by a small group environmental alarmists, aided by NGO activist thugs, self-serving consultants and pollsters, and corporate stooges who think they are being smart.”
slide3
The Economist’s Critique of CSR
  • Good Management
  • Borrowed Virtue
  • Pernicious CSR
  • Delusional CSR

Evidence of Backlash

  • CSR Watch/SRI Watch
  • NGO – Christian Aid report
  • Greenwash
  • Emergence of Related Concepts
explanations of the status of csr
Explanations of the Status of CSR

The Concept of Conventional Wisdom

  • Definition: an idea or structure of ideas that is widely acceptable at a point in time, or during a period of time, and its wide acceptability leads to its stability and predictability (Galbraith, 1958, 17-18)
  • Factors contributing to acceptability:
    • truth is associated with convenience in that it accords with self-interest
    • it contributes to self-esteem
    • people approve of what they understand
  • Applies to all ideologies, articulated on all levels of sophistication, and becomes more elaborate as time passes with large literature and even a mystique.
  • Challengers do not understand and position impregnable.
the concept of conventional wisdom continued
The Concept of Conventional Wisdom - Continued
  • Galbraith Quotation:

“Scholars gather in scholarly assemblages to hear in elegant statement what all have heard before.

Yet it is not a negligible rite, for its purpose is not to convey knowledge but to beatify learning and the learned.

With so extensive a demand, it follows that a very large part of our social comment – and nearly all that is

well regarded – is devoted at any time to articulated the conventional wisdom” (1958, 20).

  • Illustrations from evidence
    • The moral superiority of those practicing CSR (Bragues, 2002)
    • The good press received by CSR (Corcoran, 2004) and the threat of bad press (Salls, 2004)
    • The impossibility of arguing the counter view (Foster, 2005a)
    • The existence of few opponents or serious critics (Henderson, 2002)
    • The reasons for manager acceptance (Foster 2005b) and intimidation (Salls, 2004)
  • Reason for failure of conventional wisdom

Obsolescence

Failure to respond to change

issue life cycle explanation
Issue Life Cycle Explanation

Traditional Life Cycle

Enduring Life Cycle

concluding observations
Concluding Observations

Responses to CSR

  • Social Enterprise – Non-profit
  • Social Enterprise – For profit
  • CSR Recognition
  • Tokenism or Greenwash
  • Amoral
  • Anti-CSR
  • Unknown, e.g. SME, private corporations

White’s “Fade, Integrate or Transform?” Scenarios

  • Fad-and-Fade Scenario
  • Embed-and-Integrate Scenario
  • Transition-and-Transformation
speculative observations
Speculative Observations
  • Despite the CSR conventional wisdom, there is some evidence of an anti-CSR view.
  • Critics of CSR claim that it threatens prosperity in poor and rich countries as it undermines competition and economic freedoms.
  • Advocates of CSR are considered as anti-business, socialists and radicals.
  • Managers buy into CSR because they are either unaware of the dangers or they are intimidated.
  • CSR is of limited value as it is incapable of restraining socially harmful expressions of self-interest.
  • Capitalism’s success depends of a moral foundation based upon prudence, honesty, reliability, self-control, hard work, and decency (fairness and justice).
  • Some corporate failures have been attributed to CSR activities.
  • The acceptance of CSR and sustainability concepts implicitly acknowledges that business in irresponsible and unsustainable.
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