Corporate Social Responsibility and the Role of Voluntary Sustainability Standards
Giovannucci, Daniele, Oliver von Hagen, Joseph Wozniak. 2013. Corporate Social Responsibility and the Role of Voluntary Sustainability Standards. In Voluntary Standards Systems: A Contribution to Sustainable Development. (Eds Schmitz-Hoffmann, Schmidt, Hansmann, Palekhov) Spring 2013
26 Pages Posted: 21 May 2013
Date Written: May 19, 2013
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a standard feature particularly for large and consumer-oriented firms. What started in the late 1960s as something closer to charity or philanthropy has evolved in recent years. Yet, as actualization of the CSR concept is increasingly explored and becoming better-defined, there is limited understanding of how to operationalize CSR and how to manage it for desirable results at the ground level. This gap is particularly salient in the buying relationships with producers in developing countries. Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) such as Organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, Ethical Tea Partnership, Global GAP, and UTZ Certified present an important step in this process but, like many tools, require some learning and specific types of management. This chapter reviews the historical basis for CSR and its links to the VSS, revealing how pervasive the food and agriculture standards are becoming in terms of numbers and market share. It illustrates notable examples of how leading firms have put these standards or certifications into practice and some of their notable failures. Finally, it describes innovative new approaches to understanding how VSS can serve the multiple objectives of firms and their stakeholders including consumers, government, and producers.
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