Corporate Social Responsibility and Development: Can CSR Replace Development Aid?

By Jan Boon.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The CSR movement is helping address negative consequences of globalization. The proportion of participating businesses is low, and power relationships between actors are skewed towards business, posing a risk of regulatory capture of governments and NGOs by business. The current CSR paradigm does not address systemic world power structure issues. Its instrumentalist orientation limits its ability to address problems with complex root causes.

The application of CSR in development faces additional challenges: the incompatibility of the CSR business case with CSR as a development tool; the power asymmetry between corporations, and governments and communities in developing countries; lack of capacity; cultural differences; and poor alignment of CSR and development strategies. Many companies are working on internal CSR issues, and few impact studies have moved beyond the business case. Governments and international governance institutions could enhance CSR’s contribution to development through policies linked to these challenges, guide an integrated approach to aligning CSR development initiatives with overall development strategies, and institute a balanced mix of incentives and sanctions. A robust regulatory environment, intense debate and mutual scrutiny of the actors, and continued learning by all would help CSR realize its potential.

Global factors affecting future directions of CSR include changing world power structures, demographics, and climate. These could have a profound effect on CSR battle strategies and tactics of all players. Will the paradigm shift away from neo-liberalism? In which direction? Will it alleviate the plight of the poor or will it worsen it? Will the emerging trend of linking CSR to climate change issues continue?

All actors have a responsibility to be aware of the challenges and to ensure that their perspectives are heard and taken into account. They should prepare for a long “power interregnum”.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, Development, Globalization

Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.55-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 603.285KB).

Dr. Jan Boon

Graduate Student, Master's Program in Globalization and International Development, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I am working on corporate social responsibility in the mineral exploration and mining industry. My background is in natural sciences and research management (icluding leadership of provincial and federal geological survey organizations). I am a member of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada International Affairs Committee. When I retired I enrolled as an M.A. student in the University of Ottawa, and I hope to obtain my degree at the end of 2008. My other interests include human resources management, meeting facilitation, intercultural communication, Latin America, and languages.

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