Critical Perspectives on CSR and Development: What We Know, What We Don't Know, and What We Need to Know

Blackwell Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Affairs, 2006, September, 82 (5), pp. 977 - 987
Issue Date:
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The May 2005 issue of International Affairs addressed the theme of critical perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the developing world. The aim of this article is to take the debate a step further. Five researchers and practitioners on corporate social responsibility and development in various regions in the developing worldCentral America, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Argentina and Indiausing knowledge gained by their empirical research, argue that the management-oriented perspective on CSR and development is one-sided. While recognizing that critical approaches to the question have emerged, there is still a need to know which issues should form part of a critical research agenda on CSR and development. In this article the authors seek to fill this gap in order to facilitate a more in-depth investigation of what CSR initiatives can or cannot achieve in relation to improving conditions of workers and communities in the global South. They suggest that a critical research agenda on CSR and development should encompass four areas: a) the relationship between business and poverty reduction; b) the impact of CSR initiatives; c) governance dimensions of CSR; and d) power and participation in CSR. Such an alternative critical approach focuses on society's most vulnerable groups and adopts a 'people-centred' perspective as a counterbalance to the dominant 'business case' perspective. The authors conclude that this has significant implications for CSR practice
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