Corporate Social Responsibility at the Base of the Pyramid

Journal of Business Research, 2013

46 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2013

See all articles by Denis G. Arnold

Denis G. Arnold

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Andres Valentin

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte

Date Written: February 9, 2013

Abstract

The base of the pyramid proposition holds that transnational corporations (TNCs) can profitably serve the needs of the poor at the base of the global economic pyramid. This article explores the ethical dimensions of business ventures targeting the 2.6 billion moderate and extremely (MEP) poor at the base of the pyramid. It is shown that MEP populations are both cognitively and socially vulnerable, rendering them susceptible to harmful exploitation. We defend an empowerment theory of morally legitimate BoP business ventures and provide a multi-stage opportunity assessment process that allows TNC managers to determine when BoP ventures should be pursued and when they should be abandoned. This analysis is used to demonstrate the inadequacy of an instrumental, or economic, conception of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to defend an ethical conception of CSR.

Keywords: base of the pyramid, corporate social responsibility, ethical CSR, poverty, legitimacy, exploitation, empowerment, capabilities, human rights, international business

Suggested Citation

Arnold, Denis G. and Valentin, Andres, Corporate Social Responsibility at the Base of the Pyramid (February 9, 2013). Journal of Business Research, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2214291

Denis G. Arnold (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina, Charlotte ( email )

9201 University City Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
United States

Andres Valentin

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte

9201 University City Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28223
United States

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