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Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility in an Era of Globalization and Regulatory Hardening

38 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2017  

Gerlinde Berger-Walliser

University of Connecticut - School of Business - Dept. of Business Law

Inara K. Scott

Oregon State University, College of Business

Date Written: August 1, 2017

Abstract

Globalization and the growth of multinational enterprises (MNEs) has been accompanied by an increasing call for corporations to take responsibility for their environmental and social impacts, and for greater corporate disclosure and transparency with regard to non-financial risks (collectively known as corporate social responsibility, or CSR). At the same time, governments have increasingly turned to mandatory obligations for formerly voluntary CSR engagement, a trend we call the legalization of CSR. This article analyzes the “hardening” and legalization of CSR, and considers what this process tells us about norms and assumptions regarding the social responsibility of firms in the United States and around the world. Through our analysis of corporate trends, regulations, and case law from the United States, European Union, China, and India, we argue that the process of legalization and redefinition of CSR through a shareholder primacy lens may, troublingly, undermine the very notion of corporate social responsibility. In the face of these trends, this article redefines CSR with a reference to a fresh commitment to corporations’ social and ethical responsibility to society.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, Globalization, Ethics, Regulation

Suggested Citation

Berger-Walliser, Gerlinde and Scott, Inara K., Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility in an Era of Globalization and Regulatory Hardening (August 1, 2017). American Business Law Journal, Forthcoming; University of Connecticut School of Business Research Paper No. 17-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3054199

Gerlinde Berger-Walliser

University of Connecticut - School of Business - Dept. of Business Law ( email )

368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States

Inara Scott (Contact Author)

Oregon State University, College of Business ( email )

443 Austin Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States

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