Cultures of Responsibility : The Globalization of Corporate Social Responsibility


Alwyn Lim

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This paper explores the global CSR culture, including its global character, institutional rules and mechanisms, non-state participation, and voluntary nature. CSR is an inclusive term, meant to encompass multiple conceptions such as corporate citizenship and sustainability, and also cover an array of human rights, labor, environmental, and employee concerns. There are several observable cultures of responsibility but possibly the most prominent is the global nature of CSR ideas and practices. Current cultural conceptions of CSR thus acknowledge that business operations increasingly span national boundaries and that nation-bound policies may not be adequate to address social and environmental concerns as they emerge from business activities in cross-national context. A core cultural feature of CSR is the increasing rationalization of CSR issues, seen in the rise of CSR rules and mechanisms that explicitly delineate the principles by which businesses should conduct their CSR affairs. The culture of CSR has also largely incorporated a significant non-state component, both in the form of nongovernmental participation but also proactive involvement from businesses themselves. The cultural dimension of CSR is its voluntary nature, focusing on soft rather than hard forms of regulation. The global CSR culture is also marked by several distinctive contentions: private actor dominance, the problem of enforcement, CSR differences between small businesses and transnational corporations, and a governance divide between developed and developing countries. The consolidation of a global CSR culture, with its observable characteristics and areas of contention suggest several promising avenues of research for scholars interested in the cultural and institutional dimensions of corporate responsibility.


Ⅰ. Introduction
Ⅱ. Corporate Social Responsibility
Ⅲ. Global CSR Culture
Ⅳ. The Globalization of CSR
Ⅴ. Contentions and Conflicts
Ⅵ. Trajectories and Further Areas of Research
Ⅶ. Conclusion


  • Alwyn Lim Singapore Management University, Singapore


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