The business case for corporate social responsibility: A critique and an indirect path forward

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Do firms benefit from their voluntary efforts to alleviate the many problems confronting society? A vast literature establishing a "business case" for corporate social responsibility (CSR) appears to find that usually they do. However, as argued herein, the business case literature has established only that firms usually benefit from responding to the demands of their primary stakeholders. The nature of the relationship between the interests of business and those of broader society, beyond a subset of powerful primary stakeholders, remains an open question despite this vast literature. This article develops a set of propositions that highlight constraints on firms' ability to profit from CSR and outlines a set of managerial challenges on which researchers must focus their attention to truly determine whether and when firms can profit by responding to the needs of society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLimits to Stakeholder Influence
Subtitle of host publicationWhy the Business Case Won't Save the World
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781788970693
ISBN (Print)9781788970686
StatePublished - Dec 28 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


  • Business case
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Social welfare
  • Stakeholder theory


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