The Cycles of Corporate Social Responsibility: An Historical Retrospective for the Twenty-First Century
64 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2008
Debates over Corporate Social Responsibility stretch from the 1930s to the twenty-first century, and have engaged some of the leading minds of the era. In the legal academy, these debates have tended to focus on whether corporate managers and directors should owe duties to shareholders alone, or whether the scope of their legal responsibilities should be widened to include employees, communities, consumers, and other "stakeholders" in the enterprises. But there is a problem with these debates: they rarely seem to have gone anywhere. Viewed in historical perspective, each new round of debate on corporate social responsibility seems merely to recapitulate earlier debates in a slightly altered form. This Article traces out these debates over corporate social responsibility in order to provide contemporary students of CSR a vantage-point from which they can critically evaluate their predecessors, and separate out the still-vital elements in those debates from the lost causes.
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, corporations, history, Adolf Berle, CSR
JEL Classification: K22, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation