The Social Responsibility of Large Multinational Corporations

Transnational Law, Vol. 33, p. 121, 2002

U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research

19 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2009

See all articles by Douglas M. Branson

Douglas M. Branson

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law (Emeritus)


In the 1970s, legal scholars wrote extensively on the subject, as it was then known, "corporate social responsibility." Proposals surfaced for pubic interest directors, mandatory social accounting and disclosure, increased use of Security Exchange Commission (SEC) shareholder proxy proposals, federal minimum debate was eclipsed completely by the law and economics movement of the 1980s. Now, in the new century, the inquiry into social responsibility of large corporations has begun anew. This article is an attempt to take that inquiry, or debate, and place it in the international context.

I have four stories to tell. First is that much of the globalization ballyhooed by Thomas Friedman and other passionate globalization advocates may be "negative" rather than "beneficial" globalization. Second, I describe another profound occurrence, that is, the growth in number and size of gargantuan multinational corporations. Third, I describe some of the problems perceived to be created by the growth of large multinationals, such as regulatory arbitrage, degradation of the environment, and the plantation production problem. Fourth, I highlight, briefly, a few of the ongoing efforts of international organizations and so-called "soft law" to solve some of the collective action problems which exist among nation states as they attempt to prevent or forestall at least some of the more obvious detrimental effects of large multinational' presence on the globe.

Keywords: globalization, social responsibility, large multinational corporations, growth, regulation, power, nation state, international organizations, soft law

Suggested Citation

Branson, Douglas, The Social Responsibility of Large Multinational Corporations. Transnational Law, Vol. 33, p. 121, 2002, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research, Available at SSRN:

Douglas Branson (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law (Emeritus) ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-624-3437 (Phone)

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