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Why Corporate Social Responsibility?
Why Now? How?
There may have been a time when “social responsibility”
meant truly caring in both symbolic
and material ways for one’s fellow human
beings—across the backyard fence, at the community
center, in church, or at the bowling ally—but
a realistic review of history suggests that those communal
ties have been uneven and unstable now,
and in fact, we may simply be witnessing what
Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, and Tipton
(1985) describe as the “latest phase of that process
of separation and individuation that modernity
seems to entail” (p. 275). Certainly, America
was colonized by those who had “come loose”
from the old European structures, and yet the colonists
brought with them notions of social obligation
and group formation that served to ground
communal life in the new land. Bellah et al. argue
that only gradually did it become clear that “every
social obligation was vulnerable, every tie between
individuals fragile” (p. 276). So it should not
have surprised us as it appeared to when Robert
Putnam’s (2000) exhaustive research revealed that
Americans at the start of the new century were
essentially “bowling alone”—that slowly, inexplicably,
we had in large measure abdicated many of
our responsibilities to one another. Of particular
interest to the readers of this volume, and for reasons
that I develop in this chapter, the institution
that stepped into that vacuum of social responsibility
was the modern business organization.
It was an uneasy fit from the start, like a rambunctious
youngster in uncomfortable, dress-up
clothes. Business, which historically has traded in
financial and human capital, suddenly found itself
as the chief repository of social capital (Hanifan,
1916; Putnam, 2000)—the connection, reciprocity,
and trust that bind society rather than separate
it through power, hierarchy, and competition
(Kohn, 1986). It is not clear that it was a job that
the corporate world wanted or ever knowingly
signed on for (Marchand, 1998), although there
are many cases of corporations and other business
organizations assuming the role with a variety of
motives. Today no CEO worth his or her salt would
fail to recognize the moniker corporate social responsibility
(CSR), or business social responsibility,
and most have a plan for it. And yet the
paradoxical, even oxymoronic quality of this assignment
for social stewardship remains.
We have gathered together in this volume explorations
of that paradox, and in this chapter, I
address these questions: Why corporate social responsibility?
Why now? And how? To that end,
I argue (1) that the modern corporation has
accepted a role of social responsibility that it is
ill-suited to enact, (2) that the shared traits of
corporate discourse are inappropriate to promote
CSR, and (3) that a reconsideration of ethos as
participation and place offers a more appropriate
frame for corporate credibility and voice.
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16 Introduction
First, J. Roberts (2003) reminds us that “the corporation
is an idea, an imaginary entity, without
substance or sensibility and therefore incapable of
anything like responsibility. Instead, corporate
responsibility will always depend upon people
using their frail and vital sentience and following
the path that this assigns” (p. 263). Thus, we come
to regard organizations, as McMillan and Hyde
(2000) argue, by the collective actions that human
beings take and the words they make: “Not only
do organizations ‘act’ in ways that character-ize
them, we also come to know them by what they
say (and do not say)” (p. 38). And this “doing”
and “saying” is no small thing in that it constructs
a group’s legitimacy and ultimately its survival
(Katz & Kahn, 1978). The strength of that legitimacy
is one thing when prospective customers are
deciding to do business with a company or to
purchase its product; it is quite another when the
company assumes the moral authority to oversee
the construction of the “good life” for the planet
and its inhabitants (Boyd, 2000; Coombs, 1992;
Suchman, 1995). In the following section, I make
two arguments: first, that the modern corporation,
as constituted, is unfit as a carrier of social responsibility
because its raison d’être is too narrow
for the values of social responsibility and it has
usurped the influence and neutralized the aid of
other institutions better suited for altruism; and
second, that even if corporations had tacit social
legitimacy to operate unilaterally, and especially
to play by the economic rules of shareholder privilege,
the recent “corporate meltdown” demonstrates
a moral lapse that has betrayed even that
social contract and has elicited “calls for substantive
reform from virtually every quarter of U.S.
society” (Conrad, 2004, p. 312).
Many have argued, as did Milton Friedman (1988),
that “responsibility” for a business is to “make
money” (as long as the law is not broken) and that
to chastise it for being other than it is, is simply
inappropriate and unfair. From a purely technical
standpoint, one would be hard-pressed to argue.
However, the production and distribution of
social capital defy such logic. Take, for example,
the capitalist system, which Greider (2003) admits
is “ingeniously supple and complete, self-sustaining
and forward looking” but, for purposes of
social responsibility, contains one critical drawback:
as a matter of principle, it is inherently incapable
of taking society’s interests into account.
The company’s balance sheet has no way to
recognize costs that are not its own, no reason
or method to calculate the future liabilities it
causes but that someone else will have to pay.
The incentives, in fact, run hard in the opposite
direction. The Firm will be rewarded with
greater returns and higher stock prices if it
manages to “externalize” its true operating
costs. It does this by pushing the negative consequences
off on someone else: the neighbors
who live downstream from a factory’s industrial
pollution or its own workers, who lose job
security and pension rights, or the community
left with an empty factory, shattered lives, a
ruined environment. (p. 39)
This is not to say that corporate altruism is impossible.
In fact, Greider (2003) acknowledges the
strong presence of corporate reformers: “a scattered
and eclectic lot, mostly operating beneath the
media’s attention and not yet taken seriously by
the citadels of business and financial power”
(p. 27). The philosophical disconnect between corporate
and social good, which I explore more fully
later, simply means that corporate reformers have
to work that much harder to unite what seems like
the incompatible interests of the two.
Furthermore, society has lost the countervailing
influence of institutions whose missions are more
expansive and attuned to the wider social good.
Deetz (1992) is one of many who argue that the
corporate sector has become the “primary institution
in modern society, overshadowing the state
in controlling the direction of individual lives and
influencing social development” (p. 17). This
“colonization” of the contemporary life world
(see, e.g., Boggs, 2000; Deetz, 1992; Habermas,
1984, 1987; Morgan, 1986; Perrow, 2002;
Schiller, 1995) has replaced “religious, familial,
educational, and community institutions in the
production of meaning, personal identity, values,
knowledge, and reasoning” (Deetz, 1992, p. 17).
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Why Corporate Social Responsibility? 17
Given America’s fervent commitment to capitalism
and the Protestant work ethic, this corporate
takeover of meaning might not have seemed so
surprising. In fairness, there was also some appeal;
for example, early childhood care and socialization
could be handed over to daycare centers, community
value education could be done in school,
care for the elderly could be relocated to nursing
homes, and the wisdom and support of friends
could be replaced by a therapist. And there was
still the state to provide “a safety net for those who
were damaged or disadvantaged in the singleminded
pursuit of economic efficiency” (J. Roberts,
2003, p. 255). What we did not count on was
that the institutions delivering those services
would also succumb to market rationality that
required them ultimately to measure success, despite
the altruism of their commitments, by one
single criterion: the bottom line. Especially when
the state began to relinquish its caretaker role and
organizations began to assume it, the slavish devotion
to that economic imperative and, in particular,
to shareholder’s privilege seemed narrow
and fundamentally at odds with notions of a wider
social welfare (see Deakin & Konzelmann, 2003;
Gioia, 2003).
While the context thus far has been domestic
corporations, the pursuit and impact of economic
efficiency and corporate rationality are writ large
only in “transnational” and “global” corporations
(see Karliner, 1997, p. xiii). In fact, in terms of
social and political influence, Barnett and Muller
argue that domestic corporations may be no match
for their international counterparts:
The global corporation is the most powerful
human organization yet devised for colonizing
the future. By scanning the entire planet for
opportunities, by shifting its resources from industry
to industry and country to country, and
by keeping its overriding goal simple—worldwide
profit maximization—it has become an
institution of unique power. (quoted in Karliner,
1997, p. 1)
Surely, when the global marketplace operates at
its best, it has the potential, as President John F.
Kennedy so eloquently remarked, to “lift all boats”
with it and, as such, to function as a critical vehicle
for building social capital. However, some
worry (Boggs, 2000; Rodrik, 2000; Soros, 1998)
that when “corporate hegemony” is allowed to go
unchecked, what results, argues Boggs (2000), are
“highly uneven forms of growth, sharpened class
divisions, social dislocation, and mounting ecological
crises” (p. 74). These problems pervade the
U.S. brand of capitalism, and they impede the
progress of a truly just form of globalization.
Therefore, pursuing a narrow mission and
without the influence of the countervailing institutions,
such as churches, small businesses, strong
local civic organizations, and schools, the modern
organization has also assumed the oversight of
social responsibility. Financier and philanthropist
George Soros (1998) worries that such an ill-fitting
combination foretells the possibility of a
double whammy: that both human values, such
as peace, justice, and freedom, and the global
economy may be imperiled. At the very least, relinquishing
social moral authority to corporate
agents alone seems akin to leaving the rooster in
charge of the hen house.
Even if it were possible, as Greider (2003) argues,
that society has come to “accept this tension”
between a corporate rationality and social responsibility
as an “inescapable condition of living prosperously”
(p. 38), the recent siege of corporate
malfeasance goes beyond the pale. When the
Enron scandal broke, optimists declared that we
were dealing with just “a few bad apples.” Instead,
it seems that Enron better demonstrated the “cockroach
theory”—that seeing one indicates there
may be many more lurking nearby. Joining Enron
as highly visible offenders were WorldCom,
Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, and recently
HealthSouth, but further evidence of the pesky
buggers was yet to come: trials ensued for Credit
Suisse First Boston investment banker Quattrone
and former Tyco chairman Kozlowski, hedge-fund
trader Steven Markovitz copped a plea to making
improper “market timing” trades, Alliance Capital
admitted trades similar to those of Markovitz,
Prudential Securities (now Wachovia) and Merrill
Lynch dismissed employees for improper fund
trading, and JPMorgan Chase paid $25 million to
settle charges that it violated rules concerning initial
public offering of stocks (Sloan, 2003, p. 55).
On the day in March 2005 that Bernard Ebbers,
WorldCom CEO, was convicted for his role in the
company’s $11 billion accounting fraud, the Se-
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18 Introduction
curities and Exchange Commission filed new cases
against the former CEO and other leaders of Qwest
Communications for defrauding investors by overstating
the company’s growth for the past decade
. . . and the list goes on. In short, the economic system
that Protestant theologian Emil Bruner called
“irresponsibility developed into a system” (quoted
in Greider, 2003, p. 35) had seriously run amuck,
and its meltdown extracted from the corporation
a serious price tag: the public legitimacy that secures
customers and stakeholders and affords a corporation
its right to occupy space on the planet.
In the aftermath (or what we hope is its aftermath)
of the most serious of the corporate crises, a
2003 Gallup poll reported that CEOs ranked below
funeral directors and lawyers. Dan Ryterbank,
managing director of Frederic W. Cook & Company,
expressed the sentiment of many: “I have not
bought a single stock in 2002 and I don’t plan to
in 2003 because I don’t trust anybody. . . . Who
knows where the next scandal will come from?”
(Naughton, 2002, p. 49). Congress responded to
the outrage of citizens like Ryterbank by passing
the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, which was designed
to impose on companies stricter accountability
and greater transparency, but the continuation
of scandals since its passage suggests either that
those problems were preexisting or that, as some
argue, the act may be incapable of providing longterm
deterrents to fraud in public companies
(Green, 2005, pp. 66–68).
With some recent evidence of economic recovery,
the news for corporations has been slightly
better. Still, in a fall 2004 poll by GolinHarris, the
rising expectations of consumers concerning corporate
citizenship were unequivocal. Forty-four
percent of Americans believe that corporate citizenship
is “heading in the wrong direction”—
while less than one quarter (24%) believe the
opposite. This represents an 8-point swing (41%
and 29%) respectively from the same poll the previous
year, indicating that even in a slightly improving
economy, Americans increasingly distrust
companies’abilities to be good corporate citizens.
More than two-thirds of consumers (69%) say
that corporate citizenship is “important to their
trust in business,” and 52% are “inclined to start
or increase their business due to corporate citizenship”
(GolinHarris, 2004). So despite some encouraging
signs in the economy, the public has
neither forgiven nor forgotten, and shareholder
advocates argue that it will take years for investors
to truly trust again. Carolyn Brancato of the
Conference Board agrees: “The scandals have cut
the heart out of confidence” (Naughton, 2002,
p. 55).
In summary, the modern corporation stepped
into a vacuum created when citizens and informal
groups vacated the social space previously devoted
to caring for each other and for the society in some
fairly routinized and systematic ways. In part this
was due to the shrinking welfare state in many industrialized
countries. In part, the move reflected
an attempt at a social form of “rebranding.” In
part, corporate social efforts responded to demands
of employees and consumers. Nevertheless,
many businesses and other organizations found
themselves in over their heads: (1) the corporate
rationality by which they are constituted is designed
to build financial not social capital, and the
influence of countervailing social institutions has
been co-opted and neutralized, as well; (2) just
when corporations should have been ratcheting up
public evidence of caring, connection, and concern,
they experienced a serious institutionwide
breakdown of character and ethics that struck a
devastating blow to corporate credibility. Thus,
corporate actions have failed to demonstrate the
corporation’s fitness to oversee social responsibility.
In the next section, I explore how the corporate
voice fails to pass muster, as well.
While it would be a mistake to underestimate the
material impact of this rising corporate power—
real consequences in terms of, for example, misused
political power, environmental degradation,
exploitation in the workplace, and corporate arrogance
and insensitivity to social concerns—it is
the case that organizations convey this power symbolically
(Conrad, 2004; Cyphert & Saiia, 2004).
Indeed, Kuhn and Ashcraft (2003) argue that in
the degraded corporate climate that has come to
light, organizational communication has gained
“particular salience” because of the communicative
nature of the questionable practices that have
surfaced: “deceptive messages, unscrupulous leadership,
inappropriate collaboration, questionable
cultural norms, the formation of consent and so
forth” (p. 21). In particular, it has been interest-
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Why Corporate Social Responsibility? 19
ing to hear the offending organizations “explain”
and “justify” their misdeeds.
The “corporate voice” we have heard represents
a contested notion, raising thorny issues
about reification, responsibility, representation,
and accountability (Cheney & McMillan, 1990;
McMillan, 1987, 1988), and yet we know that
organizations do indeed create an “identity” for
themselves (Cheney & Christensen, 2001), largely
constructed, as mentioned above, by the actions
they take and the words they say (see also McMillan
& Hyde, 2000). Although this corporate
voice is a composite of multiple, ubiquitous organizational
rhetors,1 it is invariably dominated
by management, still “largely thought to be
management’s voice” (Cyphert & Saiia, 2004,
p. 250). Thus Deetz (1992) proposes that we describe
discourse rendered on behalf of the organization
and in its name as managerialism: “a
‘discursive genre’—a way of conceptualizing,
reasoning through, and discussing events” that
features a unified identity between management
and the corporation, a primary mode of reasoning
that features cognitive instrumentality, a favored
expressive modality that is money, and a
favored site of reproduction that is the formal organization
(pp. 222–223).
Clearly, managerialism shapes life in contemporary
organizations and beyond, as it functions
as a kind of “system logic, a set of routine practices,
and an ideology” (Deetz, 1992, p. 222).
Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, and Tipton.
(1991) recall an admonition of early U.S. statesman
Alexander Hamilton that “economic institutions
teach and form us as effectively as schools
and families do, if not more so” (p. 101). But how
does managerialism “sound”? What values does
it espouse? By what traits shall we know it? And
most important for this chapter: How do the essential
characteristics of managerial discourse
square with an organization’s ability to speak and
to enact CSR?
In the discussion that follows, I have chosen the
Enron corporation to demonstrate examples of
managerial discourse. To those who might see this
choice as kicking a company when it is down, I
would confess that Enron is certainly a selection
of convenience, given the extensive amount of
attention that the company has received both in
the popular and academic press. It is also the case,
however, that Enron touted itself as a paragon of
corporate virtue, proudly adhering to the RICE
principles (respect, integrity, communication, and
excellence) and, indeed, was named by Fortune
magazine in 1996 as the “Most Admired Company
in America” (Kuhn & Ashcraft, 2003). At
the height of its success and power, it is likely that
Enron would have been proud to be chosen as an
exemplar of archetypal corporate rhetoric. While
the following discursive traits clearly represent
Enron, this research demonstrates that they are
widely shared rhetorical markers of organizations
Managerialism Is Instrumental
Although he has been sharply criticized from the
Left, Milton Friedman (1988) probably spoke the
truth, and for many more organizations than care
to admit it, when he said that the sole responsibility
of business is to make a profit and to do so
within the bounds of the law. Lasch (1978) argues
that organizational leaders who once depended on
general culture and a unified worldview in which
to ground legitimation now rely on “an instrumental
culture . . . purely on the capacity to solve technical
problems and thereby to enlarge the supply
of material goods” (p. 45). Follow, for example,
the shifting visions of Enron executive Kenneth
Lay as he publicly constructed an account of company
goals, against all comers and against all odds:
1985: To become the premier natural gas pipeline
in North America
1990: To become the world’s first natural gas
major [supplier]
1995: To become the world’s leading energy
2001: To become the world’s leading company
2002: To emerge from bankruptcy as a viable,
albeit smaller company. (quoted in Boje &
Rosile, 2003)
While Lay’s words seem arrogant, especially in
hindsight, no modern CEO would object to his
saying them, especially his attempt to harness what
Deetz (1992) calls “market rationality—the monetary
steering mechanism for strategic managerial
technical reason” (p. 235). After all, if Friedman
is right about the corporation’s raison d’être, then
any self-respecting organizational spokesperson
would be negligent if he or she failed to foreground
what Deetz (1992) calls the “central criteria” for
managerial rhetoric: “concerns with economic
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20 Introduction
growth, organizational survival, profit and productivity”
(p. 231; see also Deetz, 2003). Although
Cyphert and Saiia (2004) call our attention to the
changing forms of managerial discourse, for example,
broadcast media, the Internet, and interactive
technologies, they insist that “such discourse
in practice remains typically instrumental” (p. 250).
In short, corporations are still held captive by what
Estes (1996) calls the “tyranny of the bottom
line,” and with instrumentality so central in organizational
discourse, it appears difficult, if not
impossible, to construct the “moral imagination”
(Haas, 2003, p. 614; M. Johnson, 1993), not to
mention the resources, necessary to serve the wider
Managerialism Is Exclusive
In managerial philosophy and discourse, the “profits”
to which Friedman (1988) alluded are not
constructed for the benefit of stakeholders generally,
but rather for the privileged class of organizational
shareholders who possess the dominant
right to maximum return on their investment and
the commitment of management to pursue that
goal. Deetz (2003) identifies exclusivity as a
“fundamental governance model” of modern organizations:
“the presumption of managerial prerogative
justified by the support of ownership
rights over other social rights” (p. 608). Gioia
(2003) calls the privileging of stockholders’ property
rights “an old and increasingly dysfunctional
ground assumption” (p. 435), but according to
Seeger and Ulmer (2003), that assumption was still
alive and well at Enron:
The case of Enron . . . illustrates the consequences
of attending to a very narrow set of values
and stakeholder concerns to the exclusion
of all else. Senior Enron managers privileged
profits, stock values, and personal wealth even
over more traditional business values such as
profitability. In doing so, they created a powerfully
distorted organizational culture of “Enronians”
unable to see outside a set of very
narrow and limited interpretations. (p. 78)
We now know that Enron’s insistence that it
was “there for its stockholders” was somewhat
disingenuous as corporate executives lined their
pockets while company profits fell and life savings
were wiped out. What is important for the purpose
of this chapter is that Enron’s arguments of
“stakeholder responsibility” were not aberrational
(see Deakin & Konzelmann, 2003); they are, in
fact, the stock and trade of any good organizational
rhetor, and one would be hard-pressed to
find an annual report that does not bolster the
interests and concerns of corporate insiders. Indeed,
J. Roberts (2003) argues that to speak otherwise
would be to engender “hostility” from
investors. However, as I show later in this chapter,
in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent
world, communitarians question how
long corporations will be able to sustain such an
exclusionary posture and rhetoric.
Managerialism Is Attributional
As noted above, the problem of accountability (see
Starck & Kruckeberg, 2001), at least for those of
us who would attempt to “converse with” a corporate
rhetor, is inherent in managerialism, and
it reaches epic proportions when a corporation is
embroiled in scandal. Because the agents of the
corporate voice are often ill defined and illusory,
as are the “partially overlapping audiences of
employees, consumers, competitors, stockholders
and the government” (Cheney & McMillan, 1990,
p. 103), it is difficult to assign blame. The “actual”
agents of corporate decision making often remain
“behind the scenes” (Crable, 1990) and become
“elusive players in scandal” (Kuhn & Ashcraft,
2003, p. 25).
As a tribute to their great skills of rhetorical
invention, however, organizational spokespersons
have recognized the advantage of corporate anonymity
and also have the fine art of scapegoating
down to a science: “Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey
Skilling have both publicly argued that they did
not know about the wrongdoings at Enron and
thus cannot be held culpable for the ethical and
legal lapses. They blamed the accounting firm of
Arthur Andersen, legal firms, and their subordinates”
(Seeger & Ulmer, 2003, p. 77).
Two particularly effective attributions, neither
new to corporate discourse (see, e.g., Crable &
Vibbert, 1983), were also employed to explain
Enron’s troubles: the “bad apple” (see Conrad,
2004) and “the market made us do it” (Derber,
1998) strategies. The bad apple strategy bemoans
the absence of “executive integrity” (DiTomaso,
Parks-Yancy, & Post, 2003, p. 148) and seeks to
“track the course of individual avarice and immo-
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Why Corporate Social Responsibility? 21
rality . . . [that] implies a two-pronged solution to
enhance accountability: prosecute CEOs and reform
business school curricula” (Kuhn & Ashcraft,
2003, p. 24). Of course, what this individualistic
perspective also accomplishes is to divert attention
from the critical systemic issues that may have given
rise to the problem in the first place (Conrad, 2003).
Another universally agreed upon and long-standing
culprit is the market, which is reified as if it were
a “wholly external determinant force, well beyond
human hands” (Cheney, 1995, p. 189). Cheney
defines “the market” as a grand symbol, an “ideograph”
(McGee, 1980) whose wiles were repeatedly
invoked by the participants in Cheney’s (1999) study
of the Mondragón worker cooperatives.2 These
mantras typified the workers’ (socios’) regard for the
power of the market: “the market that is around us,”
“listen to the market,” “the market’s orders to us.”
At Enron, the market attribution went something
like this: responding to the demands for short-term
results, management deceived investors through adjusting
performance reports. Simultaneously, investors,
analysts, and directors looked the other way
in the face of positive investment returns. All this,
according to Thomas A. Kochan, who writes about
the crisis of confidence in corporations, constructed
the attribution that it was “market forces pushing
U.S. corporations to maximize stock book values to
the neglect of other interests” (quoted in Kuhn &
Ashcraft, 2003, p. 24).
Attribution not only deflects, it also obfuscates
and thus diminishes, corporate credibility. As Kuhn
and Ashcraft (2003) note, corporate talk makes use
of “diverse and shifting images” so that firms appear
alternately as “villains, unwitting accomplices,
handy vehicles, and neutral containers” (p. 25). But
one mantra that most organizations avoid if possible
is culpability. Despite the presence in rhetorical
history of corporate apologia (see, e.g., Hearit
& Courtright, 2003; Rowland, 2002; Ryan, 1998;
Ware & Linkugel, 1973), it is usually employed
only after attempts at creative attribution have been
exhausted. Ordinary citizens, accustomed to having
to take responsibility for their actions, may have
difficulty respecting the moral authority of a business
community often so unwilling to hold itself
Managerialism Is Monologic
Historically, the corporate voice has been primarily
a one-way communication transfer, and usually
from top to bottom or from the top outward;
managerialism is impersonal and does not encourage
much listening (Cheney & McMillan, 1990).
B. M. Johnson (1981) employed a letter-writing
metaphor to describe the organization’s most fundamental
communicative relationship with its constituencies;
when the organization speaks, argues
Johnson, its messages are addressed “To whom it
may concern” and signed “The Organization.”
From the corporation’s perspective, the audience
has no name and apparently no voice with which
to speak back (Deetz, 2003, p. 607).
Deetz (1992) argues that monologue is simply
a function of the need to control—the workforce,
the environment, the market—equivocality in all
forms. McMillan (1990) says that “orders” and
pronouncements are simply the most “efficient
and cost-beneficial” ways to exercise that control;
persuasion, on the other hand, is messy and timeconsuming.
J. Roberts (2003) worries that corporations
have even co-opted business ethics as “an
exercise in proclamation: the publishing of admonitions,
inducements, and seductions toward ethical
conduct” (p. 250), when in fact, the real motive
lies in enhancing appearance and market position.
From a communication perspective, the fact that
managerialism tends to be asymmetrical means that
it also tends to be closed—to feedback, to contradictory
information, to bad news. And thus it was
at Enron. Despite Enron’s reputation at one time
as a paragon of virtue and the company’s public
endorsement of the RICE code—respect, integrity,
communication, and excellence—these values were
“neither modeled by leaders nor integrated into
operations, [rather] Enron was obsessed . . . with
values relating to business success and profitability”
(Seeger & Ulmer, 2003, p. 68). Though the
RICE code notes that employees are “trained to
report without retribution anything they observe
or discover that indicates our standards are not
being met,” the closed communicative system that
came to light was one characterized by secrecy and
outright deception (Seeger & Ulmer, 2003, p. 68).
As with other characteristics of managerialism,
this monologic quality of discourse is not new. There
is a long tradition of warning in the rhetorical literature
of organizations: the danger of groupthink
(Janis, 1971), when leaders get so myopic that they
fail to heed the warning signs and to take corrective
measures; the problems of upward distortion
(Athanaissiades, 1973; Kassing, 2000; K. H. Roberts
& O’Reilly, 1978), when subordinates per-
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22 Introduction
ceive that it is unsafe or politically unwise to convey
to management vital feedback that could improve
the company’s production or even save its
life; and the last resort of whistleblowing (Jensen,
1987), when employees get so desperately committed,
for example, Sherron Watkins at Enron, that
they risk jobs and reputations to publicly expose
the wrongdoings of their companies. In short, it
seems that savvy organizational rhetors would
have learned how to listen, whether it was the right
or simply the smart thing to do. Since both internal
and external stakeholders want to be “heard,”
it is doubtful that a socially responsible corporate
rhetoric will be able to maintain the corporation’s
largely monologic tradition. Of course, there is the
opposite problem that Cheney and Christensen
(2001) address, which finds the organization with
“an almost compulsive concern” (p. 250) about
what their publics are “thinking” and “saying”—
so much so that the organization is pulled off its
center and is no longer a distinguishable figure
against the market ground that surrounds it.
Managerialsim Is Narcissistic
One thing is virtually indisputable: organizations
have and will continue to speak highly of themselves.
And perhaps they must. If the organization
does not “toot its own horn,” who will? Horn
tooting (or positive identity creation), either loudly
rendered or in hushed, subtle tones, is the stuff of
legitimation. Cheney and Christensen (2001) have
offered us a provocative explanation of how organizational
identity is formed; in focusing, almost
obsessively, upon customers and stakeholders,
organizational rhetoric constructs its audience in
self-referential ways that, while appearing to radiate
outward to adapt to its environment, actually
loops back to form and to celebrate the
preferred identity of the organization itself. Thus,
the customer and stakeholder who appear to be
the object of the organization’s desire and service
actually become the symbolic raw material of the
organization’s own persona, a nifty rhetorical
move that functions to construct the organization
and its critical constituencies as one and the same
(Burke, 1969).
Even though self-referential identity is of the
organization’s own making, it is easy to see how
members could lose their moral compass in their
own deluded and self-aggrandizing accounts. Boje
and Rosile (2003) note that at one point Enron’s
executive committee suggested that the company
motto become “the coolest company on Earth,”
to which Chairman Lay suggested wrapping its
headquarters in a pair of giant sunglasses. Boje and
Rosile call this “an act of arrogance and extravagance
that presages disaster” (p. 98). In his analysis
of an Indian nongovernmental organization,
DVLINK, that worked on issues of rural poverty,
Ganesh (2003) found similar narcissistic behavior,
but offered a kinder, gentler interpretation
than the critics of Enron. Ganesh suggests that in
developing a system of information and communication
technology, DVLINK simply began to
inflate its own importance in the effort to wipe out
poverty and simply “lost its balance” as a public
servant. What Ganesh reminds us, however, is that
when companies become egocentric, when they
“start to believe their own spin and hyperbole”
(Fox, 2003, p. 307), they de facto “distance [themselves]
from others”—a move that is critical in the
demise of social capital.
So not only has the modern corporation failed
to act in ways that qualify it as a provider of
social responsibility, its voice has been inconsistent
with the task, as well. In adopting a set of rhetorical
strategies that features instrumentality,
exclusivity, attribution, monologue, and narcissism,
managerial language has positioned itself in
direct opposition to a discourse of connection,
reciprocity, and trust that characterizes social responsibility.
Various scholars (Cyphert & Saiia,
2004; Gioia, 2003; Heath, 2001; J. Roberts, 2003;
Starck & Kruckeberg, 2001) are lining up, however,
to suggest that there are better ways, some
plausible alternatives. Deetz (1992) argues that
managerialism is “not necessary”—not the only
discursive option available—but rather a choice
that has been made over against “other models
and logics” (p. 22). In the final section I revisit the
ancient concept of ethos to consider at least one
alternative for rehabilitating CSR.
By now it seems painfully obvious that the only
way for the corporation to legitimately enact the
role of social responsibility to which it has both
implicitly and explicitly laid claim—to move from
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Why Corporate Social Responsibility? 23
CSR as “a kind of public relations whipped cream
decorating the corporate pudding” (Bellah et al.,
1985, p. 290) to real structural reform—is to rehabilitate
its damaged institutional image and to
find an authentic and credible voice. This rehabilitation
is necessary because it falls to the institution
that would lead us in the pursuit of social
responsibility both to model it and to render its
ideas compelling and “contagious” (Weick, 1980).
Rhetorical ethos offers a promising antidote to
the current “international crisis of confidence in
corporations” (Child, 2002), because it concerns
itself directly with how people judge words and
actions—a process that exposed the crisis to begin
with and might rescue us if we let it. Coined and
privileged by Aristotle as perhaps “the most effective
means of persuasion,” ethos most commonly
is thought to refer to the character of a speaker
constructed primarily in the act of speaking. Audiences
determine the strength of ethos by assessing
a speaker’s phronesis (practical wisdom), arête (virtue),
and ennoia (goodwill) (Jasinski, 2001, p. 229).
However, as Cheney, Christensen, Conrad, and
Lair (2004) argue, since Aristotle’s and Cicero’s
rhetor was an “educated, propertied, male speaker
addressing a homogeneous audience” (p. 79), the
translation of ethos to a corporate collectivity has
been awkward and inexact. For example, how does
one apply the criteria of ethos to a collectivity or
group—one constructed of many “selves” and realities
(Cheney, 1991; Larson & Pepper, 2003)? As
J. Roberts (2003) claims, there is no “essential”
entity that is “The Organization”; thus, McMillan
(1987) suggests that we make use of the Latin term
persona (mask) to assess the unique repository of
symbols with which a particular organization aligns
—such ordinary artifacts as its newsletters, work
manuals, job descriptions, press releases, and
memos. This model works well because it formalizes
the watching and listening and assessing that
ordinary citizens do routinely that is the symbolic
stuff of ethos. Symbolic assessment by stakeholders
is especially helpful in determining an organization’s
character: an organization’s decision to “act
on behalf of an issue of conscience . . . is more than
half the battle for institutional character” and the
character-building exercise continues as that organization
“speaks” its struggle with an issue of conscience
“with the world looking on” (McMillan &
Hyde, 2000, pp. 37–38).
Not only must the means of judging collective
rhetoric be recast, so too must the criteria of corporate
ethos. The judgment of Aristotle’s individual
rhetor was straightforward: whether he had
something worthwhile and knowledgeable to say,
was pleasant and appealing as he said it, and was
adequately qualified by reputation or past experience
to be heard. Certainly, the spirit of those
traditional criteria resonates with such markers as
the quality of a company’s product and services,
whether a company is thought to be “customer
friendly,” and its success at avoiding egregious or
unlawful behavior. Still, those measures seem inadequate
for the assessment of a human institution
that has virtually asked that it be judged on
both financial and social dimensions.
Recently, rhetorical scholars (Hyde, 2004; Jost
& Hyde, 1997; Smith, 2004) have refocused attention
on two concepts, place and participation,
which better align with the contemporary social
presence of the corporation and offer more utility
in the assessment of a corporate ethos. Grounding
their arguments in the writings of Homer and
Hesiod, predating even Aristotle, and employing
the more contemporary thinking of Heidegger,
these scholars point out that “[e]thos means abode,
dwelling place . . . the open region in which man
dwells” (Heidegger, 1977, p. 233). Further, in
pursuit of ethos, it is the speaker’s (or source’s)
obligation to make us “at home” and “give us a
place to be” as we think about and deliberate those
things most precious to us. Thus, ethos not only
constructs a safe and hospitable “dwelling place”
(ethos; pl. ethen) but also invites us into participation
in that social space “where people can deliberate
about and ‘know together’ (con-scientia)
some matter of interest” (Hyde, 2004, p. 7). This
rendering not only is consistent with Aristotle’s
confinement of ethos to the spaces of public utterance
but also reaffirms Arendt’s (1959) defense
of the polis as that “space” in Greek life where all
voices were equal, and it reintroduces the option
of deliberation as a vehicle for social and political
Some (see, e.g., Beck, 1992, 1999; Haas, 2003;
Habermas, 1984, 1987; J. Roberts, 2003) are now
suggesting that the modern corporation is just the
institution to create such places and to facilitate
such participation—the site most central to both
personal and social progress.3 According to Deetz
(2003), it is the corporation’s “responsibility”
(from the Latin respondeo, “I answer”) to assume
the role of “caretaker” of this critical social space,
both local and beyond. Similarly, Jost and Hyde
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24 Introduction
(1997) explain to us that hermeneutics philosopher
Emmanuel Levinas identifies the primordial
domain of ethics as that space where, in the tradition
of Adam, Abraham, and Moses, we answer,
“Here am I” to the call of the Other (see also Hyde,
McMillan, & Mitra, 1998). Further, there is a
spaciotemporal expansion to the organization’s
unique response-ability: rather than simply “taking
care” of its own workplace and heeding the
call of the Other in its presence—workers, potential
recruits, customers, investors—the organization’s
response must be enlarged to encompass
broader social space and “distant others who,
although remote in space and time, may nevertheless
be part of interconnected sequences of corporate
actions and their consequences” (Haas,
2003, p. 613).
Furthermore, in this recast notion of ethos, it
is the obligation of the corporation to facilitate
“collaborative and moral deliberation” (Hyde,
2004, p. xviii), as well—both inside and outside
its boundaries. For example, Karl Weick has long
been on record with the contention that for people
to come to understand what they think about
things—“from mergers and acquisitions to euthanasia”—
they must first “see what they say about
them,” and that it is management’s responsibility
to provide those opportunities of articulation and
reflection (Weick, 1980, p. 21). Conrad (1993)
agrees: “It is through discourse that individuals
develop their own views of morality; through discourse
that organizations develop and inculcate
core values and ethical codes; and through discourse
that incongruities within individual and
organizational value sets of different persons are
negotiated” (p. 2). Deetz (2003) sums up the discursive
agenda of the socially responsible organization:
Workplaces must become “places” of value
debate, providing a forum for “the articulation
and resolution of important social conflicts regarding
the use of natural resources, the production
of desirable goods and services, the development
of personal qualities, and the future direction of
society” (p. 609) It is in the corporation’s “inventive
and symbolic capacity to construct dwelling
places . . . wherein good (and bad) things happen”
(Hyde, 2004, p. 8) and the invitation of Others into
that moral conversation that the “mutual dwelling
places” of ethos are formed (Smith, 2004).
How does this rehabilitated corporate dwelling
place redress the problems that have been raised in
this chapter? First, the corporate rhetor that traditionally
has been “closed” opens itself to the
Other,4 “acknowledges” the Other, and determines
the degree to which the organization is willing to
“become authentically bound” with the Other in
their “collective destiny” (Hyde, 1994, 2001; Hyde
et al., 1998; Zbinden, 1970). The days of patronizing
constructions of stakeholders as a “naive and
helpless public audience” must give way, argue
Cyphert & Saiia (2004), to a discourse of symmetry
and partnership—“a model of stakeholder involvement
that demands respect, commitment,
and risk on the part of corporate rhetors” (p. 251).
And when the consequences of corporate action
exceed the bounds of time and space, the corporation
should engage affected stakeholders in what
Benhabib (1992) calls “simulated” conversations,
in which the organization attempts to envision
itself in the role of the stakeholders and to articulate,
to the best of its ability, those stakeholder
positions. This simulation is consistent with John
Rawls’s Veil of Ignorance and with the deliberative
model that never terminates a public deliberation
without consideration of the “voices absent
from the table” (Mathews & McAfee, 2000).
Also, the new corporate rhetor does not just
speak its self-interested agenda; it listens, as well,
especially to those most vulnerable to corporate
conduct. As Beck (1992) argues, “Wealth accumulates
at the top [of society], risks at the bottom”
(p. 35). Therefore, the socially responsible organization
not only attends to the “aggregate effects
of its actions, but also carefully considers the social
distribution of those effects” (Haas, 2003,
p. 616). Furthermore, the socially responsible organization
abandons its traditional monologue.
Grunig (2001) proposes that the traditional oneway
transfer be replaced by a two-way symmetrical
model through which organizations may
interact with their publics to build relationships
(see also Coombs, 2001) and bring the perspectives
of those publics to management’s attention.
Heath (2001) extends Grunig’s dialogic model to
recommend rhetorical enactment that features a
“multidirectional flow of information, evaluation,
and opinion [which] privileges all players to assert
their ideas, offer value-laden propositions, and
propose and interpret recommendations” (p. 50).
As new and diverse perspectives penetrate corporate
attention, the goals and content of corporate
discourse must also be reconceptualized and
reframed. No longer can the exclusive, primarily
economic, interests of corporations dominate
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Why Corporate Social Responsibility? 25
social discourse. Indeed, just as globalization is altering
social arrangements and epistemological
assumptions, it is also redrawing “discursive
boundaries that have defined corporate organizations”
and forcing them to a rhetoric of corporate
ecology (Cyphert & Saiia, 2004) that considers the
“concentration and redistribution of resources to
accommodate the modern ‘struggle for existence’”
that is common to us all (pp. 253–254). In short,
argues Heath (2001), organizations need to “hear
society—to understand and appreciate the opinions
that are on the minds of people whose goodwill
is vital for the mandate of their organizations”
(p. 5).
Furthermore, when the new corporate rhetor
fails to live up to this mandate of mutuality, it must
take responsibility for its failure. Rather than
scapegoating, deflecting, or outright lying, the new
corporate rhetor accepts “the consequences of [its]
behavior” (Seeger & Ulmer, 2003) and offers an
accounting that involves “explaining and justifying
actions and may involve a variety of explanations,
interpretations, and narratives regarding
outcomes” (p. 60). Recall that Benhabib, Beck,
and Haas all suggest that if those explanations to
affected stakeholders cannot be delivered face to
face, they should be “simulated.” For these scholars,
accountability, even in absentia, is better for
the organization’s soul than no accounting at all.
Estes (1996) sums up an alternative model of organizational
[W]e need a new scorecard, one that will measure
corporate success in terms of the corporation’s
public purpose. It must show the effects
on, the returns to, all stakeholders and not just
the returns to stockholders. . . . [W]ith adequate
information, stakeholders, acting in their own
best interests, will reward responsible corporations
and penalize irresponsible ones. (p. 16)
Finally, it is the corporation’s vulnerable opening
of itself to the Other and the provision of
“dwelling places” for consideration of mutual concerns
than can free it from its historical egoism.
Ganesh (2003) argues that organizational narcissism
results from the “simultaneous centralization
of self and distancing of others” that emphasizes
“legitimacy over accountability” (p. 57). The temptation
to disregard communal concerns is understandable,
given what Bauman (1993) calls the
“floated” nature of organizational responsibility,
that is, distance in space and time between the corporation
and those affected by its actions. To bridge
that divide, J. Roberts (2003) suggests seeking more
venues in which the corporation actually encounters
the “face and the voice of the Other” (p. 261).
These venues, argues Heath (2001), offer opportunities
for the “co-creation, co-management, codefinition
of meaning . . . that reconcile strains and
alienation and foster mutually beneficial relationships”
(p. 35). If personal interaction is impossible,
however, or those affected by corporate actions are
removed in time and space, Benhabib’s simulation
may offer the next best alternative. From the perspective
of these affected constituents, argues J.
Roberts (2003), there is “more at stake and more
to be said—more felt urgency that you the corporation
can come to know the difference you are
making in my life and my community” (p. 262;
emphasis added). Such feedback functions to
“break the mirror” of the organization’s narcissistic
gaze on its own image.
In summary, a mutual dwelling place stands to
transform both corporate words and actions by
• replacing corporate monologue with dialogue,
transforming the faceless public of the
corporation to a “Thou” as opposed to an
“It” (Buber, 1958);
• replacing exclusivity with corporate profit/
loss accounting that assesses all stakeholders,
rather than a privileged few (Starck &
Kruckeberg, 2001);
• replacing solitary measures of instrumentality
with measures of success in terms of human
and social capital (Greider, 2003);
• replacing external attribution with corporate
accountability and disclosure (J. Roberts,
2003); and
• replacing the corporation’s self-adoring gaze
with an examination of its image in which
what the corporation “sees” is no greater
than the least of those that have been adversely
affected by its actions, and no smaller
that those whom the corporation has lifted
up (Ganesh, 2003).
This reappropriated model of ethos recasts the role
of stakeholders in some profound ways, as well.
As a wary public reconsiders its commitment to
the institutional world of corporations and, in
particular, that institution’s leadership role in our
common “struggle for existence” (Cyphert & Saiia,
2004, pp. 253–254), the audience of the corpora-
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26 Introduction
tion is empowered to ask some hard questions, as
well, and those questions originate not in the public
relations or marketing departments, but with
the stakeholders themselves—all of them:5
• To what degree have you “created” and “invited
us into” a place where we can “dwell
and feel at home” (Hyde, 2004, p. xxi)? (i.e.,
Is our workplace safe, friendly, and free?
Does it promote human potential? How do
you care for Mother Earth?)
• To what degree have you offered us the opportunity
for “collaborative and moral deliberation”
(p. vii)? (i.e., Do you listen to us?
Do you care? How broad are your concerns?
Do you include us in decision making?)
• To what degree have you worked to “modify
the lived and attuned spaces” to feature what
is “true, just, and virtuous” (p. xvii)? (i.e.,
Do you tell us the truth? Do you admit your
mistakes? Is the welfare of all of us equal to
your own?)
My answers to the original questions of this chapter
are simple. Why corporate social responsibility?
Because individuals have largely abandoned,
at least seriously neglected, the role of caring for
one another, and corporations have assumed it.
Why now? Because we have recently become painfully
aware of how ill suited the modern corporation
is for the task, lacking both the credibility and
the voice of moral authority. How? Recast the
traditional criteria used to judge individual ethos
with a more fitting and timely corporate ethos that
features a transformation of place and participation.
These second-order changes (Bateson, 1973)
will not be easy for a corporate culture steeped
largely in Friedman’s measure of “responsibility,”
but the organization that steps up to this challenge
will fulfill what Smith (2004) calls the “teleological
function of ethos” that presses to a higher calling
“capable of advancing a cause . . . uplifting an
audience . . . and improving a mutual dwelling
place” (pp. 15–16).
1. Cheney, Christensen, Conrad, and Lair (2005)
distinguish between the unitary corporate voice,
which they term “uni-vocal,” and the collective
voices of the corporation, which render it “multivocal.”
These authors suggest that the organization
must constantly manage the tension between
presenting an integrated, uni-vocal message or
tailoring it multi-vocally to the needs of various
2. Cheney’s study took place in the Basque region
of Spain, where he focused on one of the
world’s oldest (40 years at the time of his study)
and most economically successful worker cooperatives.
Cheney gathered data for a total of six and
a half months in 1992, 1994, and 1999 (Cheney,
3. See McMillan and Hyde (2000) and McMillan
(2004) for case studies of one institution’s experience
with providing discursive spaces.
4. Estes (1996) suggests that the Others for
corporations include employees, customers, stockholders,
suppliers, lenders, neighboring communities,
and society at large (p. 25).
5. The debate about whether the “self” of ethos
is innate or socially constructed places the source
of credibility with the source of the message. Lucas
(2006), Smith (2004), and others have argued to
the contrary, that despite our talk that seems to
assume the source as the proprietor of ethos, credibility
in truth resides in the minds and perceptions
of the audience. This distinction is not to say that
the words and actions of a person or group make
no difference in the oft-heard communication
phrase “credibility building.” Indeed, words and
actions are vital—the raw material of credibility.
Lucas and Smith simply remind us that the ultimate
credibility judgment comes from the hearer
and thus is beyond the control of the source. In
fact, near the end of the Rhetoric, even Aristotle
advises: “With regard to moral character: there are
assertions which, if made about yourself, may
excite dislike, appear tedious, or expose you to risk
of contradiction. . . . Put such remarks, therefore,
into the mouth of some third person.”
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30 Introduction
A New Generation of Global Corporate
Social Responsibility
The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits
. . . to make the most money as possible while conforming
to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied
in law and those embodied in ethical culture.
Milton Friedman
CR is not new. When Robert Owen joined David Dale in
1800 at his spinning mill in New Lanark he created a school
and workers’ housing and he provided medical services. In
short, he ploughed business profits into improving the lives
of employees and their families. And over the course of the
next century the Cadburys, Frys, Rowantrees [sic], William
Lever and others followed suit. And so it has continued to
the present day.
Nigel Griffiths
At its best, CSR is defined as the responsibility of a company
for the totality of its impact, with a need to embed
society’s values into its core operations as well as into its
treatment of its social and physical environment. Responsibility
is accepted as encompassing a spectrum—from the
running of a profitable business to the health and safety of
staff and the impact on the societies in which a company
Sir Geoffrey Chandler
Despite the ubiquitous acknowledgment of globalization
in virtually all areas of social, political,
and economic life, conceptualizations and
discussions of ethical and responsible organizing
within academic, policy making, and local communities
often remain remarkably parochial. Typically,
for example, when Americans think about
the personification of corporate social (ir)responsibility,
Enron’s Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling loom
large in public consciousness. The enormity of the
financial fraud and the extent of human devastation
brought forth by the Enron scandal come to
mind. Twenty-nine top executives secretly sold
millions of dollars in stock options while employ-
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 31
ees were forbidden to do the same; not to mention,
63% of the 21,000 employees lost their life
savings in 401(k) pension plans as a result (Sharp,
2002). The case of Enron yields well-known and
compelling examples of corporate communication
at its worst, including blaming, secrecy, intimidation,
plausible deniability, arrogance, silence,
withholding, and conspiracy. For example, Arthur
Andersen, Enron’s auditing firm, shredded Enron
documents while on notice of a federal investigation
(Oppel, 2002). Indeed, when people typically
think about Enron and corporate responsibility,
they focus upon events of the most recent past,
post-2001, including California’s energy problems,
the manipulation of corporate earnings and
American stock prices, the collapse of stock and
subsequent pension funds, and a pattern of corporate
and personal lobbying and political contributions
that suggest, at the very least, undue
access and influence within the American political
process itself.
In this chapter, we reconsider corporate social
responsibility (CSR) within a global framework,
particularly focusing on its evolution and impact
over time. We offer a global perspective that seeks
to frame CSR in a more expansive temporal and
less elite Western-centric frame. Toward this end,
we begin with a brief review of Enron and discuss
what a “global CSR perspective” might have told
us about Enron long before this decade’s debacle.
We then explore how a global perspective enables
us to see the ways in which the development of the
CSR movement mirrors (as well as builds upon)
the evolution of the global human rights regime.
Like the development of international human rights
standards and norms, which, we suggest, are integral
to corporate global social responsibility,
there are several generations of CSR that continue
to explore how to construct and enact more humane
and ethical organizational practices. The
first generation of CSR is grounded in discussions
of responsibilities regarding what not to do (e.g.,
negative responsibilities such as not to exploit or
cheat). The second generation focuses upon discussions
of providing adequate compensation and
working conditions (e.g., the right to a living wage),
and the third generation addresses proactive and
positive responsibilities (e.g., to protect and create
a sustainable and just world). Taken together,
these generations provide a framework for exploring
the evolving nature of CSR, as well as the theoretical
and pragmatic challenges of developing
standards and norms for global corporate engagement.
The final section unpacks the four dynamic
processes that make our framework or approach
to CSR truly “global.”
Most recent accounts of the Enron scandal agree
that, until 2001, Enron was held as a model of the
highest standards for American business (Cruver,
2002; Eichenwald, 2005; McLean & Elkind, 2003;
Swarts & Watkins, 2003). On February 6, 2001,
Enron’s own website reported, “Enron Corporation
was named today the ‘Most Innovative Company
in America’ for the sixth consecutive year by
Fortune magazine. Enron placed No. 18 overall on
Fortune’s list of the nation’s 535 ‘Most Admired
Companies,’ up from No. 36 last year” (Enron,
2001). With the notable exception of economist and
columnist Paul Krugman, who raised the possibility
in December 2000 of Enron’s manipulation of
the market and the subsequent California electricity
crisis, Enron was the darling of the American
media. Thus, when the scandal broke, Americans
were surprised. But they should not have been. If
we had looked beyond our own borders, Enron’s
actions, and its betrayal of its responsibilities to
stakeholders and to the public at large, would have
been obvious and predictable.
Indeed, looking at the actions of Enron in India,
Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Mozambique, Poland,
Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama,
and Colombia, among others, we see the seeds and
growth of corporate irresponsibility as well as an
exemplar of the evolving nature of CSR in the global
arena. Enron had a history of consistent wrongdoing,
and to date, it remains the only company in
history to be a subject of a full Amnesty International
report (Amnesty International, 1997).1
As early as 1991, Enron made a controversial
deal with the Indian government to build a power
plant in Dabhol, India. From 1992 to 1998, Enron
owned 80% of the Dabhol Power Company. General
Electric and Bechtel each held a 10% share.
The deal initially was lauded by the business press
(see BusinessWeek, 2001), but rumors emerged
from the beginning that the contract was corrupt
and full of political improprieties. By 1993, the
World Bank had questioned the project’s viability,
and Indian critics argued the project had been
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32 Introduction
compromised by Enron’s “high-handed behavior”
(Parry, 2001).
Human Rights Watch (1999) reported that
Enron misled the public from the start when the
firm boasted it had received no complaints during
the legally required solicitation of citizen comments
about the proposed project. Yet, by 1995,
thousands of Indians protested the Dabhol project
on grounds of its negative social, economic, and
environmental impacts. By early 1997, demonstrators
condemned the displacement of more than
2,000 people, and the misappropriation of Indian
land grew in size, frequency, and violence, as well.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch reported that Enron colluded with local
police, who followed, arrested, beat, and detained
peaceful protestors, holding them without trial.
“Protesters and activists have been subjected to
harassment, arbitrary arrest, preventive detention
under the ordinary criminal law, and ill treatment.
. . . [Further,] women, who have been at the forefront
of local agitation, appear to have been a
particular target” (Amnesty International, 1997,
p. 1). In fact, stories of women being dragged from
their homes and beaten with batons were common.
In January 1999, Human Rights Watch starkly
concluded, “Human Rights Watch believes that the
Dabhol Power Corporation and its parent company
Enron are complicit in these human rights violations.
. . . The company, under provisions of law,
paid the abusive state forces for the security they
provided to the company. These forces, located
adjacent to the project site, were only stationed
there to deal with protests” (1999). Importantly,
Enron’s international auditors were also local offices
of Arthur Andersen in India and in other non-
U.S. locations, where it was engaged in duplicitous,
illegal, and unethical practices.
As noted above, Enron’s abuses of human rights
and political interventions, coupled with its documented
ecological abuses (e.g., destruction of indigenous
mango and cashew plantations and
fisheries, and contamination of rivers and seawater)
and disregard for mandated consultation processes
and political processes (see Chattarjee, 2001)
represented “business as usual” for the company.
Thus, the “surprising” behaviors uncovered in
2002 were not aberrant. Unfortunately, it was
only when Enron’s American-based scandals became
exposed that policy makers, the media, and
the general public grew enraged (see Wysham &
Valette, 2002). A global focus on Enron’s and
Andersen’s business practices abroad might have
alerted policy makers and Americans in general to
Enron problems many years earlier; a global focus
might have cultivated a global consciousness
and appropriate CSR practices as a result.
Framing Enron activities and its relations with
stakeholders within the global arena illustrates
the interdependency among social, political, economic,
and environmental dimensions and the
evolution of CSR. The Enron scandal is not merely
a financial or American-based scandal. In today’s
global economy, profitability cannot be separated
from issues related to political equity, social dignity,
and environmental viability, and responsibility
cannot be limited to whether or not a corporation
violated the letter of the law in a particular country,
or even a simple calculation of whether or not
it did harm economically. As we describe in this
chapter, a new generation of CSR has begun to
recognize the futility of compartmentalizing ethics
from profitability, as well as local from global
(or global from local) business practices and requirements.
New discourses reveal the theoretical
shifts that have been made as scholars and practitioners
attempt to make sense of firms’ (social)
roles and responsibilities in a global economy.
The Enron case also illustrates the limits of conceiving
CSR in negative terms or, in other words,
focusing solely on what a corporation cannot do
legally. Enron’s complicity with India’s police force
may have been within the letter of the law, but its
collusion could also be described as socially irresponsible.
The recent movement of CSR to a proactive
orientation not only is a result of increased
knowledge of such dramatic events but also mirrors
and works within a context of evolving global
standards of human rights and the increased collaboration
of corporations, nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs), and governmental organizations
in the development, monitoring, and implementation
of human rights standards. The discursive and
practical connections between human rights and
CSR are very powerful. A global CSR is intrinsically
related to human rights, as identified in the
United Nations Charter, including “the dignity and
worth of the human person” and “the equal rights
of men and women” (United Nations, 1945). Both
human rights and CSR are concerned with, among
other freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom from
arbitrary arrest, freedom of movement, and the
right to earn a living wage for a day’s work. Thus,
to understand the evolution of global CSR, it is nec-
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 33
essary to understand the evolution of the global
human rights regime. We now turn our discussion
to the ways in which the standards, expectations,
and monitoring of human rights have evolved in
concert with CSR.
Many scholars have described the evolution of a
human rights regime over the last 500 years in
terms of three generations of rights (Apodaca, Stohl,
& Lopez, 1998; Marks, 2004). The first generation
of rights, most familiar and comfortable to
the Anglo-American tradition, is concerned with
the civil and political rights of individuals. This
epoch represents a chain of development that began
with the Magna Carta and extends through
the English Bill of Rights in 1689, the Declaration
of Independence, and the Declaration of the Rights
of Man in 1789.
First-generation rights arose to protect the individual
from the power of the state and, in doing
so, were generally conceived of as negative
rights or freedoms from state interference. Firstgeneration
rights are seen as belonging to the individual
and often favor the abstention rather
than the intervention of government. These include,
for example, the freedom from arbitrary
execution, the freedom from unreasonable detention,
the prohibition against torture and inhumane
treatment, and the right to freedoms of
thought and expression.
Milton Friedman’s (1970) early conceptualization
of CSR, outlined in the quotation at the
beginning of this chapter, is consistent with firstgeneration
rights. For him, CSR is about maximizing
returns to the general shareholders of a
company consistent with the law; the state will
not interfere with corporations lest they fail to
uphold the charter of profitability. His argument
parallels discussions of civil and political rights,
in this case, requesting that the corporation, rather
than the state, refrain from improper behaviors or
the violation of the laws of its own country, such
as prohibitions against bribery or participating in
violations of basic rights and liberties if business
is conducted in countries where such rights and
liberties exist. Again, the discourse of first-generation
rights largely entails the act of “refraining
from”; it remains the province of negative rights.
The second generation of rights developed out
of the nineteenth-century class struggle and the
development of capitalism and industrialization.
Responding to the great social upheavals that accompanied
the growth of large-scale industrial
enterprises within Western democracies, workers
demanded more humane conditions of employment
and compensation. While first-generation
rights emphasized restraint from the state, secondgeneration
rights demanded state intervention on
behalf of claimants. These rights include the right
to fair and equitable wages; the right to rest and
leisure, including reasonable limitation of working
hours and periodic holidays with pay; the right
to basic health care; and the right to a safe working
In the quotation at the beginning of this chapter,
Nigel Griffiths MP, Minister for Corporate
and Social Responsibility (Griffiths, 2004), notes
that values articulated in the second CSR generation
focus upon the provision of living wages, family
benefits, and health care, not only in the
jurisdiction in which the corporation has its home
but anywhere and with any other organization
with which it operates. Like the second generation
of human rights, these behaviors are positive contributions,
not negative avoidance of behaviors.
It is important to note that in the United States
and the United Kingdom, the discourse of first-generation
rights extends so far that second-generation
ones are still most often viewed as luxuries that
should not be satisfied until the first are secured.
In Northern Europe, second-generation rights are
seen not as subsidiary but rather as coequal, and
these differences can be seen in the laws of various
countries.2 Interestingly, second-generation
concerns about child labor, women’s rights to
employment, and sweatshops are often contested
by those arguing against CSR movements in terms
of the imposition of Western values on other cultures,
much as with the discussion of requests to
governments within the human rights movement
to guarantee these rights. For these critics, the second-
generation rights discourse of “intervention”
implicitly carries with it histories of colonialism
and imperial imposition.
The third generation of human rights is of
much more recent vintage, although philosophical
precursors may be found much earlier. The
third generation focuses on the rights of “mankind,”
or our collective humanity. Foreshadowed
in the aspirational statement of the preamble of
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34 Introduction
the UN Charter (United Nations, 1948), Article
28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
declares that “everyone is entitled to a social and
international order in which the rights set forth
in this declaration can be fully realized.” These
rights differ significantly from those addressed in
the first two generations insofar as they are collective
rather than individual rights and can be
realized only through global participation, cooperation,
and agreement. What rights should be
included in the third generation, however, remains
highly contested.
The right to live in peace and the right to a
healthy and balanced environment are generally
high on the list of proposed third-generation rights.
Indeed, the foci of this generation continue to
evolve through a dialogue of confrontation between
the rich and poor nations, a dialogue infused
with the legacies of war, colonialism and
imperialism, and the extraction and degradation of
resources to benefit the North at the expense of the
South. Sir Geoffrey Chandler (2001), founder chair
of Amnesty International’s International Business
Group, 1991–2001, and former senior executive
Royal Dutch/Shell Group, quoted at the beginning
of the chapter, embodies the discourse of thirdgeneration
CSR. He argues that corporations
should contribute to the growth of the people and
societies in which they operate and should attend
to the “totality” of outcomes, as well. Just as
in contemporary discussions of human rights,
the third-generation CSR discourse also faces
the challenge of discerning or, perhaps more appropriately,
dismantling the “boundaries” of
impacts prompted by participating in a global
In summary, the evolving generational discourse
of human rights parallels the emergence of
a global CSR. The shift from rights as individuals
to the rights as collectives, as well as from negative
to positive rights, mirrors similar attempts to
theorize the role of the firm beyond its fiduciary
function and geographic boundaries. While profitability
has been the litmus test for responsibility
in the past (and arguably in some present-day
circles, as well), academic and business communities
alike have expanded their conceptions of
CSR beyond simple support for local communities
in which firms operate to a consideration of
the totality of a firm’s impact globally (see
Townsley & Stohl, 2003).
We presented the Enron case as just one example
of how critical CSR issues, concerns, and behaviors
are often obscured or hidden when examined
solely at the local or national level. To be sure, the
cases of regional neglect are plentiful. The ecological
devastation wrought by the shrimp industry in
Central America, Shell Oil’s involvement in disputes
over the development of Nigerian oil resources
and its complicity in the executions of
several Nigerians, and Nike’s involvement with
child labor and Southeast Asian sweatshops are
just a few other well-known examples of corporate
actions that appear “local” but actually transcend
national borders as well as permeate the
political, cultural, social, and economic spheres of
everyday life globally. Overall, we suggest that the
emerging generation of CSR carries with it the recognition
that a global framework is important for
all organizations, both large and small. A global
CSR is responsive to the multiple cultures, value
sets, and communicative practices of different nations
while recognizing that (inter)organizational
contexts are no longer bounded by the nation-state.
A global perspective also frames CSR in a more
expansive temporal and less elite Western-centric
frame. Barnett and Muller (1974) identified several
problems regarding corporate behavior in the
developing world. These problems included the
now familiar manipulative accounting practices so
as to reduce local tax burdens for corporations
while leveraging (through political bribery and
payoffs) huge investment incentives from local
governments and communities (e.g., free land,
major infrastructure installations, and assistance
and guarantees of a quiescent work force). But the
predominance of a Western-centric elite typical of
conceptualizations in the 1970s and 1980s framed
the exploitation of corporations as limited in time
and emphasized downward direction, as something
rich corporations did in (to) poor nations,
not in rich ones. That is, Western corporations
were stronger than many governments and social
sectors, and thus it was only in underdeveloped
nations that we had to worry about CSR. Barnett
and Muller (1974) did talk of a future where local
communities “might well begin to make the
same analysis of their situation as underdeveloped
countries are doing” (p. 380), but that call was lost
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 35
amidst the short-term concern of the domination
of rich nations’ multinational corporations over
poor nations’ weak governance structures. A new
generation of CSR, however, recognizes that the
continued growth and conglomeration of corporations
across contexts has altered the relative
power of the government, social, and corporate
sectors throughout the world and that CSR is just
as relevant in corporate relations among rich countries
today as it is in the relationships between rich
to poor countries of decades ago.
Overall, a global perspective not only provides
insight into new models for what constitutes ethical
practice in today’s complex business economy
but also demands richer ways of conceiving of
organizations, as well as their role and commitment
to society at large. The following section
provides an entry into what we conceive of a global
CSR framework.
Fundamental changes are emerging within the third
generation of CSR. This transformation is strongly
associated with four previously identified dynamic
processes of globalization (see Stohl, 2005):
1. No distinction between “out there” from
“in here”
2. “Glocalization” within new and old forms
of media
3. Reflection of the complex network of organizational
relations across sectors rather
than any particular organizations, individuals,
or specific interests
4. Recognition of the permeability of public/
private boundaries
Third-Generation CSR No Longer
Distinguishes “Out There”
From “In Here”
One of the most important features of the third
generation of CSR is that it embodies dynamic,
intense, and extensive communicative, economic,
cultural, and political exchanges and practices,
producing new discourses of identity and new forms
of interconnectedness. To borrow from Giddens’s
(1991) conceptualization of globalization, thirdgeneration
CSR “is not just an out-there phenomenon.
It is an in-here phenomenon” (p. 367). As
stated above, early conceptualizations of CSR represented
an individual’s freedom from organizational
wrongdoing by virtue of the corporation not
violating the legal mandates of a particular society
at a particular time. Those who fell outside the
purview of a particular law or context were not
included within the corporation’s responsibilities.
Boundaries between nation-states were strictly adhered
to, and acceptable corporate behaviors were
widely variable as a result. On the other hand, a
global perspective on CSR changes notions of presence
and absence: “it has made the identification
and communication of ‘inside’, ‘home’ and ‘away’,
‘them’ and ‘us’—more problematic than ever”
(Scholte, 2000, pp. 48–49). In this framework,
even when individuals and groups consider themselves
separate from or having unique CSR contexts,
they establish their position in relation to
the global system, what Robertson (1990) calls
The instantiation of organizational and national
boundaries within the first and second generation
of CSR can be seen in many of the pivotal
moments in the progressive history of CSR. These
events are associated with particular corporations
in particular places at particular points in time. It
was the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in
New York City that brought the issue of “sweatshops”
most prominently to the world’s attention
in the last century and led to the first U.S. legislation
on factory working and safety conditions. The
Lockheed bribery scandal in 1976, which involved
the corporation bribing foreign officials, including
the Japanese prime minister, members of the
government of Italy, and Prince Bernhard of the
Netherlands, led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act in 1977. Because of the tight
connections among the diamond company DeBeers,
apartheid in South Africa, and the civil wars in
Sierra Leone, a movement to address working conditions
in extractive industries was formed. In each
of these cases, CSR was conceived within the framework
of first- or second-generation CSR—the
corporation’s obligations not to do things (first
generation, do not bribe officials) or to address the
rights of individual workers (second generation—
the right to a living wage, to free assembly) within
a particular context.
The attention of the public to grave and dramatic
events, galvanized through popular media,
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36 Introduction
often produces direct, albeit short-term, attempts
to confront a CSR issue, including, for example,
legislation to create safety standards, outlaw overcrowding,
or establish clear responsibility and liability
for environmental damages caused. The
third-generation CSR movement, however, is communicatively
rooted in more than the reporting of
events to engage the public, and more than Band-
Aid solutions. For many years prior to particular
large-scale disasters, there was often no push to
address the problems, not because they were hidden
from view but because the issue had no lasting
resonance with the public and corporations
were able to carry on with business as usual. Part
of the reason is that the relevant publics did not
feel connected to those who were the perceived
victims: stockholders did not identify with stakeholders;
individuals embraced their local and national
identities to the exclusion of the “Other.”
As early as 1922, Lippmann described public
opinion as “[t]he pictures inside the heads of
these human beings, the pictures of themselves,
of others, of their needs, their purposes, and relationships”
(p. 30). Absent is some form of selfreflexive
global consciousness; when Americans
think about multinationals abroad (if they think
about them at all), they tend to conceive of behavior
in terms of how corporations are performing
“over there” and not in terms of what that
means at “home.” Rare are those who think about
these issues beyond themselves or their communities,
or in terms of global constituencies or
impacts. But as many populaces are learning,
the boundaries between us and them are quickly
Today, the social and material conditions of
globalization make it more and more likely that
stable forms of place and identity are replaced with
flexible flows drawn across borders. These reflexive
changes in identities of peoples and groups
moving from local centering to universal concerns
implicate third-generation CSR in the constant
reexamination of corporate social practices in light
of new information and new relationships. Increased
global consciousness provides the backdrop
for the development of the third generation
of CSR, a framework that focuses on collective
rather than individual protections and rights, an
approach that extends stakeholders beyond national
borders and that can be realized only
through global participation, cooperation, and
Third-Generation CSR
Is “Glocalized” Within New
and Old Forms of Media
Roland Robertson (1992) describes glocalization
as the copresence of both universalizing and particularizing
tendencies within the global system.
The dynamic disembedding of events and institutions
and the realignment and restructuring of
social interaction across time and space create a
communicative dynamic in which global events are
interpreted through local culture and local events
are interpreted through a global framework. The
tempering effects of local/global media coverage
(both traditional and new media) on global/local
conditions have begun to exert strong influences
on the development of CSR. Information about
corporate behavior and global issues is no longer
within the purview or interpretive frame of any
one individual, group, or organization. Digitized
technology, the World Wide Web, and collaborative
communication systems mean that there is no
longer a monopoly of information by any one elite
group, and an opening for multiple social actors
who heretofore have been denied access to or entry
into the discussions and sense making of corporate
behavior, standards, and expectations. As
such, information technologies have the potential
to disrupt global West/non-West, North/South
power relationships as well as create “new frontier
zones” for rethinking the meanings and practices
of global participation (Sassen, 2002).
However, it must be noted that in the context
of the modern globalized communication environment,
especially the compression of time and space
and the rapid diffusion of ideas and knowledge
through new technologies, there are many ironies
surrounding CSR that continue to reinforce localized
rather than glocalized frameworks. Despite
ubiquitous, multichanneled, and instantaneous
communication due to the availability of satellite,
wired, and high-speed broadband capabilities that
are capable of literally bringing the world to our
desks, our automobile radios, our living rooms,
or our cell phones, publics do not yet have the
information needed as responsible citizens, nor do
people typically make appropriate and timely use
of the information that is available. News from
abroad is not simply incomplete, it still focuses
on the dramatic, violent, and episodic and does
not bring into focus structural issues or needed
changes, long-term trends, and inappropriate be-
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 37
havior unless it involves significant criminal
charges, particularly to home-country corporations
and executives. Thus, Union Carbide’s environmental
and human destruction in Bhopal 20
years ago is known within the United States, but
few Americans are familiar with the enormous
environmental destruction that Rio Tinto Zinc, a
British company, has caused through its mining
operations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and
In the absence of immediate, local, and dramatic
disasters, large, successful, and well-connected
corporations are still able to control much
of the “news” the public receives and launch
highly successful strategic public communication
campaigns. They take advantage of the same media-
gathering routines that favor governments,
incumbents in election campaigns, and well-liked
celebrities with generally benign coverage framed
by those that are covered rather than the journalists
themselves. Corporations have also learned to
use the media, oftentimes confounding news reports
with public relations exercises, embracing
and reframing CSR as good business. CSR Wire
(an Internet news service) advertises itself as “the
leading source of corporate responsibility and sustainability,
press releases, reports and news” (CSR
Wire, 2006). During an interview in The Economist
(2005), Clive Crook describes how CSR has
become big business, including executive programs
in CSR, business school chairs in CSR, professional
CSR organizations, CSR websites, CSR
newsletters, and much more.
At the same time, much of the CSR literature
within academic business literature continues to
focus on the functionality that a CSR campaign
can bring to a firm’s success, and or the extent to
which CSR publicity can enhance consumer practices.
Consultancies have sprung up to advise companies
on how to do CSR and how to let it be
known that they are doing it. Most multinationals
now have a senior executive explicitly charged
with developing and coordinating the CSR function.
But just as with the third generation of human
rights, the existence of standards, and even the
publicly acclaimed legitimacy of the framework,
does not imply implementation or compliance. The
proliferation of CSR discourse globally does not
necessarily guarantee global CSR practices.
One of the challenges of third-generation CSR
discourse remains the omnipresence of first-generation
logic summed neatly in the word “profit”
and critiqued in such films as The Corporation
(2003) and ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the
Room (2005). In fact, the latter film explicitly
chronicles the Enron debacle and displays the worst
of corporate excess and greed using the very video
and audio tapes made by the insiders themselves
(clearly not anticipating the imminent downfall).
It is the continued specter of profit that provides
the fodder for documentary makers, activist organizations,
and other NGOs as they work to expand
their sphere of influence on behalf of a global CSR.
In addition to the films mentioned above, the
global reorganization of work, perhaps best portrayed
in popular discourse through the practices
of outsourcing and offshoring, has become rich
material for those visually theorizing the complexities
of global CSR. For our purposes, outsourcing
entails the dispersion of nonessential business tasks,
including, for example, software development and
implementation, administration and human resource
functions, and customer service, to firms
providing these services. The related offshoring
entails the outsourcing of nonessential tasks to service
providers in distant locales, as witnessed by the
expansion of American corporation’s offshoring to
countries such as the Caribbean, Philippines, and
One of the central themes of both outsourcing
and offshoring, particularly as portrayed in American
media, involves the primacy of loss to industrialized
nations’ workers and the devaluation,
disregard, or nonrecognition of the importance of
the loss of cultural practices of indigenous populations.
And it is in Thomas Friedman’s recent
Discovery channel documentary on the call center
industry in Bangalore, The Other Side of Offshoring
(2004), that we begin to witness the
seemingly unproblematic celebration of American
culture. The film depicts how Indian workers,
particularly young women, are not only learning
how to serve American customers but also learning
to become consumers in their own right. With
a new salary in hand, young Indian women are
able to circumvent more traditional cultural expectations
for their future, including marriage or
familial obligations, by pursuing a career. At the
same time, a problematic loss of cultural identity
is embedded in this pursuit. Not only are they
often asked to assume an American name and
accent for use in customer service interactions in
call center work, but they also learn to shop for
American products in newly built malls replete
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38 Introduction
with the global likes of Gap and Nike, not to
mention eating practices commensurate with
McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Their experiences demonstrate
how with outsourcing come new work
practices across time and space, as well as hybrid
identities that transcend gender and cultural traditions.
Yet, these impacts remain seemingly absent
from U.S.-based discourse, at least until now.
Importantly, old and new media do have the
capacity to open up and glocalize the discourses
of outsourcing (see, e.g.,Viewpoint From India,
2006, and Outsource Reporter, 2006). This capacity
to consider not just who (if at all) loses jobs
and who gains them, but what price all sides pay
for the alterations in the very first place, is at the
very root of the new generation of global CSR. We
can view the impact on India, for example, as
Thomas Friedman does by celebrating how much
the call center there looks like an American oasis.
Or we could explore the impact that outsourcing
has on the cultural practices of the indigenous
population and the social, cultural, and political
consequences that follow. The third generation of
CSR goes beyond legal constraints on corporate
moves (first generation) and issues related to what
corporations must do for the workers who lose the
jobs (second generation) and addresses what price
societies pay for the jobs, recognizing that there
is not necessarily a single winner and loser but a
series of winners and losers arising out of the process
over relatively short periods of time.
This emerging generation of global CSR considers
short-term as well as long-term consequences
and confronts the inevitable social dislocations for
all constituencies affected by offshoring and outsourcing,
as well. Ten years after the signing of
NAFTA, when American labor was concerned with
the loss of U.S. jobs and the flight of capital to
Mexico, we find that the processes of outsourcing
and offshoring have not ended in Mexico; nor will
they stop in India. We now see that the shift of
outsourced manufacturing jobs from the United
States to northern Mexico and Central America
is resulting, under the force of competition from
China, in many Central American plants closing
and the shifting of hundreds of thousands of Central
American jobs to Chinese factories. The first
wave of offshoring and the building of Central
American factories created an enormous migration
of young people to the new factories. It created
whole new cities and a changed demography, a
concentration in cities away from the countryside
(see Thompson, 2005). In fact, the global migration
of peoples to the “global cities” has also contributed
to a whole (invisible) service sector that
underpins the global economy, including domestic
laborers and hotel/restaurant/retail and sex
workers (see Sassen, 2005). Yet, what happens
now? Whose responsibility is it to assist them and
their new communities? What are the implications
at the global level? These are the very questions
the third generation of CSR has the potential to
Third-Generation CSR Is No
Longer the Province of Any
One Organization, Particular
Individuals, or Specific Interests
but Rather Reflects the Complex
Network of Organizational
Relations Across Sectors
The new generation of CSR is emerging in response
to the complex and interdependent nature
of contemporary life. Globalization embodies the
development, reconstitution, and intensification of
communication networks among societies, cultures,
institutions, and individuals across time and
space. Global social capital is created, maintained,
and dissolved in new types of organizational affiliations,
public spaces, and loosely coupled networks.
There are new forms of organization and
models of leadership. As Monge and Contractor
(2003) note: “These organizational and social forms
. . . are built around material and symbolic flows that
link people and objects both locally and globally
without regard for traditional national, institutional,
or organizational boundaries” (p. 4). Thus,
the third generation of CSR must deal with hybrid
organizational forms. Privatization has resulted
not only in corporate forms addressing the civic
needs that traditionally were met by public organizations
but also in collaborations between different
sectors. This melding of organizational types,
structures, and functions creates several challenges
for CSR.
For example, even in what have been referred
to as the “welfare states,” former public services
such as health care and (un)employment agencies
have opened their doors to private firms and providers.
And while there have long been temporary
help service agencies or labor market intermediaries
besides the state, what some assert is different
now is the extent of the mixing of organizational
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 39
genres: “On the one hand, ‘social’ organizations
now have to emulate the characteristics, norms
and behaviors of the market. On the other hand,
‘economic’ organizations have begun to take on
tasks once understood as public sector responsibilities”
(Larner, 2002, p. 654). Indeed, the “reconfiguration
of social government into an ‘advanced
liberal’ form” continues to challenge the who and
what of (corporate) responsibility (p. 660). Tracing
the New Zealand state initiative to develop into
a global call center region, Larner found that the
state and Adecco, the private temporary service
agency, together were responsible for the “building
of a new industrial training regime” by running
call center courses targeted at immigrants, single
mothers, and long-term unemployed (p. 660). Her
work confirms that of others who have traced the
extensive role of temporary service agencies in
managing human resources in concert with state
agencies (Peck & Theodore, 2000; Townsley, 2002;
Vosko, 2000).
The case of global restructuring at Ericsson also
demonstrates the complexities of pointing the responsibility
finger. Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications
multinational, engaged in a series of
successive downsizing in locations across the globe
starting in the late 1990s and continuing to the
present day. What is fascinating about the unfolding
of the restructuring process has been the network
of firms—private/public, Swedish/American,
and hybrids—that, taken together, constitute responsibility
for laid off workers in Sweden. As
compared to the United States’ “at will” employment
law, employees in Sweden have been protected
not simply by a cultural ethos that frowns
upon layoffs but also by the Security of Employment
Act (see, for example, Neal, 1984) that condemns
arbitrary dismissals. When economics do
necessitate layoffs such was the case with Ericsson,
the state, the unions, and other hybrid organizations,
both profit and nonprofit, rallied to assist
redundant workers in transitioning to alternative
“solutions.” In fact, this multiagent solution, also
referred to as the “Norrköping model” after the
southeastern Swedish town where the first round
of production was halted, was later heralded as a
cooperative, organizing genius of a program (see
Townsley & Stohl, 2003).
The merging and restructuring of organizational
forms are predicated on the fact that corporations
today deal with problems and issues that
cannot be addressed successfully by any one organization
or even a group of organizations alone
(e.g., global warming and environmental protection,
AIDS in the workplace, political instability
and lawlessness). Thus, it is not surprising that
with the broadening agenda and sets of expectations
we see greater involvement of NGOs and
international governmental organizations in discussions
of CSR. There has been a recognition that
many issues will not be solved unilaterally, bilaterally,
or even regionally but rather require cooperation
from these different types of global
organizations. The development of corporate codes
of conduct reflects this global perspective. In 1977,
the Sullivan principles were developed by the Reverend
Leon Sullivan. Originally inspired by the
desire to counter apartheid and pressure U.S. corporations
to behave responsibly in their investments
and operations in South Africa, Reverend
Sullivan carried the successful approach beyond
South Africa and created the Global Sullivan Principles
of Social Responsibility, thereby applying
an expanded set of standards to global organizations
operating anywhere.
Other types of organizations have also begun
to invest in CSR. For instance, since 1999, the
United Nations has urged corporations and nations
to embrace the Global Compact, “a voluntary
international corporate citizenship network
initiated to support the participation of both the
private sector and other social actors to advance
responsible corporate citizenship and universal
social and environmental principles to meet the
challenges of globalization” (United Nations Procurement
Service, 1999, ¶ 1). The United Nations’
Global Compact is also complemented by NGOs
formed to assist the corporate, government, and
public sector in monitoring not only the inputs
(responsible behaviors) but also the outputs (responsible
results and impacts). Transparency International
also informs corporations (and everyone
else) about the climate for being a responsible and
legal corporate citizen around the world. Social
Accountability International, founded in 1996, seeks
to go to the next level of CSR by creating and implementing
voluntary standards through an accrediting
process to certify qualified organizations
worldwide. In an attempt to legitimate their approach,
they have replicated the well-established,
respected, and highly credible ISO standards process
of the International Standards Institutes
originally established for technology, engineering,
manufacturing, and agriculture.
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40 Introduction
Another example of the way third-generation
CSR has developed a global framework is to look
briefly at movements focused against particular
iconic corporations such as Nike, McDonalds,
Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart. These behemoth corporations
often make the best targets even though they
have the resources to be among the most powerful
of opponents. By no means do they have to be the
worst offenders in the particular corporate sector
in which they operate. What these firms have in
common is that the very strength of their branding
makes mobilizing networks of consumers against
them easier (Klein, 2002). For example, Nike became
the corporate symbol (along with a few other
apparel makers) for Students Against Sweatshops,
UNITE, and various other NGOs interested in
fighting sweatshops through boycotts, consumer
campaigns, and monitoring activities. Nikewatch,
like McSpotlight, Cokewatch, and Walmartwatch,
through websites and organized activities both
monitor the actions of these corporations and help
mobilize a disparate set of NGOs, protest movements,
and political activists in settings around the
world through their ability to diffuse information
and bring many unrelated organizations together.
The establishment of linkages between different
sectors of society with third-generation CSR
also grew out of a human rights case first submitted
to the U.S. federal courts in 1979. Filartiga v.
Pena-Irala (1980) was filed against a Paraguayan
police inspector living in the United States. Pena-
Irala was accused of torturing and killing the son
of a Paraguayan dissident (Filartiga) in Paraguay.
Relatives of the victim won a $10 million judgment,
which, although never paid, reestablished
the right to connect violations of international law
to entities under U.S. jurisdiction. The case was
based on the Alien Tort Claims Act passed by the
first U.S. Congress 1789, in order to allow cases
involving violations of the law of nations, or international
law, to be heard in federal court. Using
this legal (noncorporate) precedent, in Wiwa
v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (2000), a case was
successfully brought against Shell Oil defendants
for the executions of several Nigerians, including
prominent author Ken Saro-Wiwa, arising out of
disputes over the development of oil resources in
the homeland of the Ogoni people. The plaintiffs
charged that although it was the government of
Nigeria that had tortured and executed the victims,
these abuses were “instigated, orchestrated,
planned, and facilitated by Shell Nigeria under the
direction of the defendants,” who were said to
have “provided money, weapons, and logistical
support to the Nigerian military . . . , participated
in the fabrication of murder charges . . . , and
bribed witnesses to give testimony” (p. 3). More
recently, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
in Doe I v. Unocal Corp. (2002) held that a corporation
may be liable as an aide and abettor of
human rights abuses carried out by the Myanmar
government along a natural gas pipeline route
being built in Myanmar on the company’s “knowing
practical assistance [or] encouragement . . .
which has a substantial effect on the perpetration
of the crime” (p. 5). In the last few years, these
judgments against the corporations have produced
conflicting responses by corporations. On the one
hand, they have lobbied and fought in the courts
against the application of the law (a struggle they
are currently losing in the post-Enron environment)
and have worked diligently to try to counter
the attendant publicity, publicity that is much
greater because the cases are tried in American
courts; on the other hand, they have had in the
interim to accept the consequences and to readjust
to the realities of their new legal liability.
What is critical here is that what started as a creative
use of an old law to seek legal redress has,
in the March 2005 settlement of the damages in
Unocal, developed into an attempt by the corporation
to demonstrate third-generation responsibility.
The corporation is providing not only compensation
for the villagers but also funds “to develop programs
to improve living conditions, healthcare and education
and protect the rights of people from the
pipeline region” (see Lifsher, 2005).
Third-Generation CSR
Recognizes the Permeability
of Public/Private Boundaries
The intensification of linkages across social domains,
embedded in each global dynamic, has greatly influenced
the evolution of the third generation of CSR
in very compelling ways. We see, for example, exponential
growth of NGOs that reflect personal interests,
individuals’ expressions of social values, and
even much of their economic activity. These privateinterest,
value-based organizations are increasing
their participation and involvement in what has traditionally
been the governmental or corporate
sphere. Volunteers and private citizens with strong
ideological commitments work side by side with
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A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility 41
professional managers who may or may not share
their political values and social orientation but who
nonetheless collaborate on issues related to their
communities and social responsibility.
One of the most significant byproducts of the
changing communication patterns and content
within and across organizational domains is that
it has blurred what were previously taken-forgranted
distinctions between public and private
experiences and obscured the boundaries among
local, national, and global spheres of influence.
Industrialization brought with it rigid distinctions
and barriers between the private and public domains
and the belief that these spheres of action
operate independently, each with its own set of
autonomous conditions, structures, and strictures,
what has often been referred to as the “myth of
separate worlds” (Stohl, 1995). Today, not only
are experiential and national boundaries becoming
less delimited, but also the development of new
communication technologies has made private and
public domains more porous and more easily
crossed than ever before (Bimber, Flanagin, &
Stohl, 2005). This disembedding of human interaction
from local to distributed contexts, facilitated
by the Internet, blogging, and sharing of
personal files online, has serious import for the
development of CSR. As Bimber et al. (2005) note:
As individuals are able to move more seamlessly
between private and public domains, the
structure of public domains themselves is altered.
Previous factors defining public-ness,
such as the family, the community, and the
state, become less influential in circumscribing
public domains when people’s individual public-
private boundaries are weakened. This permits
the constitution of public spheres around
common interests that may join people in disparate
regions of the globe. So indeed we find
examples of collective action aimed at the status
of poor children in all countries, that favor
clean air everywhere, or that advance human
rights in many locations. (p. 27)
Third-generation CSR addresses myriad, complex,
and overlapping activities and issues that
heretofore were considered private, not public,
matters. One example of the contemporary blurring
of private and public domains is the context
of work. The evolving international division of
labor is clearly influenced by expanding corporate
power, but there remains an informal sector that,
while figuratively hidden from much public discourse
as well as literally hidden in people’s homes,
restaurant kitchens, and brothels around the
globe, provides the necessary services that allow
elite workers to do their work without changing
diapers or washing laundry. And it is this informal
service sector that poses unique challenges to
first- and second-generation CSR.
As Jaggar (2002) argues, global neoliberalism
is maintained through a system of Northern creditors
and Southern debtors that produces “global
indentured servitude” of the South for the North.
It is the gendering of the North–South relationship
that has produced a complex industry of care,
or commodified love. Nannies, sex workers, and
maids make up the occupational types most often
associated with care work (see Ehrenreich &
Russell, 2003). The combination of sex typing of
these jobs as “women’s work” and the migratory
patterns of women who travel the globe for work
make the commodified love industry a fertile context
for the abuse of women’s human rights that
is relatively hard to chart and monitor. But it is
precisely the dispersed and fragmented nature, as
well as multiactor enterprise, that demands a thirdgeneration
CSR analysis.
Women increasingly leave their families behind
to migrate to jobs that will enable them to send
remittances to their homeland, to become the
breadwinner in otherwise depressed states. In fact,
many governments actually encourage the migratory
patterns of female labor for international care
work (e.g., nurses, nannies, and sex workers) for
just this reason—national income. In addition to
the nation-state, corporations also foster gendered
labor patterns of care, particularly as ex-patriots
and the mobile workforce who travel the globe
demand services such as child care and domestic
help that then allows them to work on the run and
abroad. And while nanny work has expanded
greatly from state- and corporate-sponsored programs
across the globe, the industry continues to
function informally, as well, thus making it more
complex to track and trace CSR trends as well as
abuses in this hybrid public/private care industry.
Just as the major advances in human rights can
be traced to major upheavals such as the Glorious
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42 Introduction
Revolution of 1688, the American and French
Revolutions of the late eighteenth century, and the
devastation of World Wars I and II, many of the
advances in the assertion of the need for CSR and
the attendant rights and obligations associated
with CSR have occurred in the aftermath of major
changes, disasters, and confrontations in global
and civil society. The dynamic and volatile
processes of globalization have strongly influenced
the trajectory of CSR at the end of the twentieth
and into the twenty-first century.
In this chapter, we have demonstrated how a
consideration of CSR within a global framework
helps us to better understand its evolution and
impact over time. Our discussion of Enron showed
how interest in corporate irresponsibility abroad
might well have alerted us to the impending
troubles to come long before this decade’s debacle.
Exploring the three generations of CSR, placing
the concerns within a global perspective, and recognizing
the interconnectedness between domains
of social life have enabled us to identify and situate
the emerging concerns and potential impacts
of the changing nature of CSR. This also revealed
some of the theoretical and pragmatic challenges
of developing CSR standards and norms within
this new global context.
There have been great strides in CSR development
in the past few decades. The idea itself has
been legitimated, moving beyond simply defining
responsibility as upholding the law. But just as
with the development of human rights standards,
the existence and recognition of the legitimacy of
the standards and the claims of the rights does not
imply their consistent or continuing implementation
or even their continuing acceptance as the
appropriate norms. And just as the full blossoming
of the human rights NGO community came
after the victory of the creation of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights as the NGOs expanded
their efforts at monitoring, mobilizing, and
acquiring resources to assist in the implementation
of rights, we should expect further development
of a global CSR regime consisting of activist organizations,
governments, and corporations based
on a dramatic expansion of their interactions and
their work. In the context of globalization and
global corporate and NGO actors, it is only with
a global perspective and global approach that we
can truly understand and approach CSR as scholars
and practitioners.
1. Noncompliance with environmental standards,
violations of loan conditions, dubious and
misleading accounting procedures, and political
scandals associated with corporate coercion regarding
Enron’s Cuiaba project in Bolivia, Ecopetrol
scandal in Colombia, and Elektro generator
project in Brazil, among others, were reported as
early as 1994 (see, for example, CEADES, 2002,
and Amazon Watch, 2006). For a full accounting
of Enron’s illegal activities and dubious financial
accounting worldwide, see Grimaldi (2002).
2. This primacy of first-generation thinking is
visible in U.S. law on human rights, which holds
the government accountable for its interactions
with foreign governments when such persist in a
pattern of gross violations of human rights, by
which are meant violations of civil and political
rights, not economic, social, and cultural rights
(see Carleton & Stohl, 1985). Further, the creation
of legal standards for behaviors outside the country
such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
(1977) was intended to prevent bribery of foreign
officials by U.S. corporations, but no legislation
exists that requires U.S. corporations to pay a “living
or minimum wage” when operating outside the
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44 Introduction
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Progressing from Corporate Social
Responsibility to Brand Integrity
The decade from 1995 to 2005 was significant
for corporate social responsibility (CSR). The
year 2005 was 10 years since Shell’s annus horribilis
and their debacle over the disposal of the
Brent Spar oil rig in the North Sea and 10 years
since they were implicated in the death of Ken
Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian human rights activist who
was murdered by his government for protesting
about the distribution of revenues from what was
perceived to be Shell’s damaging extrication of oil
from the Ogoni region of Nigeria. This decade also
saw the flowering of the Global Reporting Initiative
(, out of the CERES Principles
(, the development of workplace
management systems certification (SA8000),
the birth of AccountAbility (www.accountability21
.net) and sustainability management systems assurance
(AA1000S) out of the Institute for Social and
Ethical Accountability, and the first five years
of the United Nations Global Compact (www In this chapter, I chart the
development of some key ideas and initiatives in
the CSR movement in the last decade or so and
then suggest a new way forward for a movement
that is looking for new directions.
Most pertinent to this chapter is the ongoing
debate concerning the links between business
profitability and global social progress. While the
business benefits of CSR are a topic much debated
and written about, it needs to be reiterated over
and over again that business operates for the benefits
of society, not vice versa. There can never
solely be a business benefit from CSR—that is the
ususal sense—but rather asocietal and ecological
benefit in the widest sense. If a minority gain net
material wealth in the short term at the gross expense
of society and the planet in the short, medium,
or long term, what real benefit is that? The
only reason to argue the case for the business benefits
from CSR is to make the case for business
being more socially and ecologically responsible
if we are to create a more just and equitable world
that uses and shares resources for the benefit of
this and future generations.
What, then, is the CSR agenda, and what has
it achieved over the last decade or so? This question
is linked to a number of significant reports
from reputable research organizations that argue
the case for CSR and profitability. Next, I discuss
some thoughts on the link between capitalism and
social progress. This is followed by an exploration
of new territory, which argues that the emphasis
should move from corporate social responsibility
to brand integrity—but in an expanded sense of
the term. Indeed, a link is made between the integrity
of decision makers and consumers and the
integrity of corporations via the integrity of their
While good progress has been made on a number
of corporate responsibility initiatives over the
last decade, they have not been as successful as
they might have been because we have failed to
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46 Introduction
understand that in the modern global corporation
we have created a being over which we have less
control than we would like to think. It is recognized
that many of its agents have the best of intentions;
however, because the corporation itself
has a life of its own, these agents have less control
than is sometimes recognized. The current
rules of incorporation tend to steer the organization
away from necessarily delivering social progress and
protecting our planetary home. Here, then, in this
chapter, is a prescription for the profitable, human-
scale corporation that operates in tune with
social progress and in harmony with planetary
boundaries by connecting with all stakeholders
through profound brand integrity.
Having established some of the conditions within
which the CSR discourse is conducted, this chapter
moves on to a new social responsibility agenda.
I argue that while new incorporation rules are an
absolute necessity, social responsibility lies with
us all, not just the corporation. Here brand and
integrity are linked. Brands are in fact owned by
us all, although we are accustomed to associating
them with narrower private concerns and images.
They are ubiquitous and more democratic than
corporations. What can be said about brand integrity?
How might we go about measuring the
social and ecological footprint of brands (rather
than just corporations), as well as their financial
performance? This requires a multidisciplinary
approach that draws on complexity and systems
thinking as well as social network approaches. Is
it possible to apply to such brands as the United
Nations, the BBC, and Oxfam the same “loyalty
without reason” that is applied to the billions of
annual sales of Dove soap, Coke, and M&Ms?
The CSR agenda has been described as “a desire
and a necessity to humanize the globalization process;
to build social and environmental pillars in
the global temple of commerce” (McIntosh, Waddock,
& Kell, 2004, p. 13). John Ruggie, former
Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations
and now Director of the Centre for Business and
Government at Harvard University and, since
2005, special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-
General on CSR, has pointed out that
“[b]usiness created the single global economic
space; business can and must help sustain it. And
CSR offers one viable and vital approach” (Ruggie,
2003, p. 41). So is the CSR agenda attempting to
put capitalism back in line with social progress?
This begs the question that the currently dominant
model of capitalism is currently out of line with
social progress. Has the creation of global markets
reached all of the world’s peoples? Should we be
celebrating a “marketized” world to which everyone
has access, where everyone has equal opportunities,
where everyone can enjoy clean water and
access to the Internet and a choice of 20 fast-food
outlets in their neighborhood?
The CSR movement has been resurgent over the
last 10 years, and multistakeholder engagement,
among business, government, and civil society, has
resulted in a significant number of global voluntary
corporate citizenship initiatives. Nongovernmental
public action, or civil society activism, has
been at the heart of the development of a number
of these initiatives. The field of CSR and corporate
citizenship has developed significantly (Andriof &
McIntosh, 2001; Waddock, 2002). There are those
who argue that voluntary mechanisms have replaced
or prevented regulatory initiatives and therefore set
back real corporate responsibility. Examples of significant
global voluntary corporate citizenship initiatives
include ethical workplace management
systems certification (SA8000); sustainability management
systems assurance (AA1000S); learning
platforms based on international conventions on
human rights, labor standards, environmental protection,
and anticorruption (United Nations, 2005);
and the standardization of reporting on corporate
financial, social, and environmental reporting (Global
Reporting Initiative). These have been referred
to as four of the “Global Eight” (McIntosh, 2003a,
pp. 86–123).
These particular initiatives have been fostered
through “new social partnerships” between business
and civil society organizations in multistakeholder
dialogues (Zadek & Nelson, 2000). Two strands of
research literature have emerged around concepts of
partnership and stakeholding. Through multistakeholder
engagement, often embodied in new social
partnerships, the focus has been on sharing difference
and celebrating diverse opinions while attempting
to find consensus among different actors. In
many cases, this has led to radical reappraisals as
participants have learned to listen as well as talk
(Andriof, Waddock, Husted, & Rahman, 2002;
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Progressing from Corporate Social Responsibility to Brand Integrity 47
Kunugi & Schweitz, 1999; Tennyson & Wilde,
2000; Wheeler & Sillanpaa, 1998). So, has the
world been learning to listen and talk? (Cragg, 2003;
Leipziger, 2004; McIntosh, 2003a, 2003b; McIntosh
et al., 2004).
The global corporate responsibility movement
operates in the context of an increasing expansion
of trade, albeit substantially between a relatively
small group of global, often supraterritorial corporations.
Both the corporate world and civil society
activists have been aided by dramatic changes
in communications technology that have democratized
information flows and empowered even the
smallest community organization. This trend we
see plainly in the network organizations that have
arisen in movements as diverse as the environmental
movement, global health campaigns, and human
rights advocacy.
It is common to argue that the United States is
the only superpower, but increasingly the corporate
responsibility debate has to recognize growing
differentiation between the United States and much
of Europe on social and market issues. Also, sitting
quietly at every table in every board room, on every
university campus, and in every manufacturing
plant is the presence of China. Economic realignments
are afoot that we are only beginning to understand
and these will inevitably affect the way we
do business and reform corporate capitalism.
The literature on globalization falls into three
camps: the largely analytical (Bauman, 1998; Beck,
2002; Giddens, 2001; Hardt & Negri, 2000), the
chiefly celebratory (Micklethwait & Woolridge,
2000), and the highly critical (Ali, 2002; Booth &
Dunne, 2002; Chua, 2003; Gray, 2003; Stiglitz,
2002). But while there is an implicit and explicit
understanding that the modern world has come
about through the expansion of trade, the development
of technology, and the growth of global
corporations, it is corporations that have increasingly
been held to account for the social and environmental
impacts of their financial performance
(Balkan, 2004; Korten, 1995; Zadek, Pruzan, &
Evans, 1997). The cases of Shell, McDonald’s, Nike,
and Starbucks (discussed elsewhere in this book)
are but a few examples.
Issues of continental territoriality are juxtaposed
by a global clash of fundamentalisms between
religious and political orthodoxy versus
tolerance and conviviality and by rampant consumer
consumption versus efforts to establish
sustainable capitalism that recognizes Earth’s carrying
capacities and the delicate nature of human
development. Also, the current model has not been
wholly inclusive, such that the wealth disparity
between the developed and the developing worlds
is increasing year after year. How we see the world
is changing as we face up to the environmental
imperative. Wolfgang Sachs of the Wuppertal Institute
has said: “Eventually, the world will no
longer be divided by the ideologies of ‘left’ and
‘right,’ but by those who accept ecological limits
and those who don’t” (Sachs, 2005).
CSR is not a new subject for discussion: certainly
the discussion that links social responsibility and
profitability has not arisen just in the last decade.
It is possible to prove that there is a direct link, and
there are now many sources that new inquirers can
reference. For instance, in 1998 I wrote, in Corporate
Citizenship: “This book outlines the social
responsibility issues facing businesses. The companies
profiled (here) have recognized that having a
social responsibility strategy has made them more
competitive” (McIntosh, 1998, p. xix). An awardwinning
study published in 2001 by Michael King,
then with KPMG, in the Journal of Corporate Citizenship
said: “The study finds that companies can
deliver across multiple objectives. Indeed, aggregate
performance of ‘sustainable’ companies is better
than their peers and relevant market indices over a
five-year period” (King, 2001, p. 99).
In more recent years, SustainAbility and the
United Nations Environment Programme published
Buried Treasure (2005), in which they identified 10
reasons for believing that the links between sustainable
development performance and business success
will grow stronger. The Dow Jones Sustainability
Index (2005) makes the same point: “Corporate
sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder
value by gearing their strategies and management
to harness the market’s potential for sustainability
products and services while at the same time successfully
reducing and avoiding sustainability costs
and risks.” The World Economic Forum (2005) has
conducted similar studies and found that:
[t]he Business Case for Corporate Citizenship
explains that good corporate citizenship can
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48 Introduction
provide benefits . . . and identifies ways that increased
corporate citizenship can improve business
performance. Real-life examples of the
consequences for companies that have invested
in or ignored key aspects of corporate citizenship
are also presented.
A more specific study conducted by Claude Fussler
and colleagues from the World Business Council
for Sustainable Business on the link between signatories
to the United Nations Global Compact
and profitability concluded in 2004:
It is a fact that if I had bought the 76 shares of
the GCS76 in October 2001 instead of the
shares of a larger group I would be 1.1% better
off at the end of 2003. As a group, the Global
Compact signatories created more value.
The goals of sustainability, the challenges of
social responsibility and leadership’s inspiration
by principles higher than the sole profit
motivation—they all foster business excellence.
(Fussler, 2004, p. 282)
However, as accurate and convincing all these
and other studies are at proving a direct link between
CSR and profitability, the research also
indicates specific characteristics of companies
that have been proactive on CSR. First, these
companies tend to be in sectors that have become
targets of protesting consumer, community, or
environmental activist groups. In the 1970s and
1980s this involved the chemical industry, in the
1990s the extractive industries, and perhaps now
in the 2000s pressure is particularly focused on
the pharmaceutical sector. Second, proactive CSR
companies specifically tend to have inspired, values-
led senior management in the board room—
leadership from the top. Third, they engage in
sophisticated and well-financed stakeholder engagement;
in other words, they tend to be more
“intelligent” by virtue of establishing methodologies
for listening and responding to a wide range
of stakeholder concerns. Fourth, as a result of the
above, these proactive CSR companies have become
part of the ongoing dialogue about voluntary
and regulatory CSR initiatives around the
world. They are as active in the debate as are
trade unions and civil society groups. But the
debate continues, and a firm link is still to be
made between CSR and the delivery of the United
Nations Millennium Goals.
The promise of the CSR advocacy is that it will civilize
corporate behavior so that there is an alignment
between capitalism and social progress. While recognizing
that some companies were making great
efforts in this direction, United Nations Secretary-
General Kofi Annan also said, when addressing
global business leaders meeting in New York in July
2004 to discuss progress on the United Nations
Global Compact: “Symbolism is good, but substance
is even better” (Annan, 2004).
In September 2004, the World Bank issued a
report on just this issue, which said:
The growing integration of societies and economies
has helped reduce poverty in many countries.
Between 1990 and 2000 the number of
people living on less than $1 a day declined by
about 137 million. Although global integration
is a powerful force in reducing poverty, more
needs to be done. . . . [Two] billion people are
in danger of becoming marginal to the world
So, some progress is being made, perhaps because
of new global corporate citizenship initiatives like
the United Nations Global Compact, which asks
companies to “embrace, support and enact, within
their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the
areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment,
and anti-corruption” (United Nations,
But is the CSR movement asking companies to
lead social change on social and environmental
issues? Recent research on behavior change in the
United Kingdom related to sustainable development
published by the U.K. government shows an
alarming failure to educate people on these issues.
Only one-third of the U.K. population has heard
of sustainable development, and only 8% are able
or willing to explain it. If companies are being
called upon to embed, for instance, the 10 principles
of the United Nations Global Compact on
human rights, labor standards, and environmental
protection in their workforce, are we asking
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Progressing from Corporate Social Responsibility to Brand Integrity 49
them to do what government has failed to do
across wider society? (Department for Food, Environment
and Rural Affairs UK, 2005). Similar
findings can be found across Europe.
So how is business progressing on these issues?
According to the international Association of Certified
Chartered Accountants (ACCA) in September
2004: “Businesses worldwide are failing to produce
enough sustainability reports, while governments
are doing little to encourage such reporting.
There are still only 1,500 to 2,000 companies producing
reports worldwide. The majority of companies
still have to recognize the business case for
reporting and starting to engage their stakeholders.”
Is this perhaps because the challenges of sustainable
development, human rights, and labor standards
are not uppermost in the minds of CEOs?
Also in September 2004, the U.S. Conference Board
(business membership and research organization)
reported that a global survey of CEOs showed that
they had four challenges, none of which included
the CSR agenda: sustained growth; speed, flexibility,
and adaptability to change; customer loyalty
and retention; and stimulating innovation and creativity
and enabling entrepreneurship (Conference
Board, 2004).
A clear differentiation occurs between those
companies that are proactive in CSR and others.
The proactive groups have tended, until this point,
to be global and have similar characteristics, which
were outlined above. The exception to this is the
set of U.N. Global Compact signatory companies,
60% of whom now come from countries that are
not members of the Organisation of Economic
Co-operation and Development and are not the
usual supporters of CSR initiatives. But apart
from the proactive group, there are three other
groups of corporate “citizens”: those from the
informal and illegal sectors that actively avoid
paying taxes, compliance, and incorporation; the
vast majority of the small to medium sized enterprise
sector who try hard to comply with the
law and establish good relations with their local
customers; and a group of discretionary companies
that are in compliance with all aspects of the
law but have also chosen to be proactive in one
or more areas of CSR, such as the environment
or human rights (McIntosh et al., 2004). These
categories are not necessarily exclusive, and there
are some companies that have been radically proactive
on CSR issues, such as Enron, Parmalat, and
Shell, who have subsequently been found wanting
on issues of transparency and integrity in the
board room.
Interestingly, while there is differentiation in
the originating culture in which a corporation is
based, when it comes to issues of integrity there
may be no difference between one board room and
another. As Roger Adams of ACCA has said:
Immediately after Enron, the widely held European
view was that the US “rules based” culture
acted as an incentive to commit fraud
rather than as a deterrent against it. We heard
a great deal in the UK about the superiority of
“principles based approaches”. But ultimately,
fraud pays no heed to the existence of either
rules or principles. (Adams, 2004)
However honest and upright board members of
major corporations are, it may be that they serve
false corporate masters that bend toward delivering
profit at the expense of caring for communities
and planet. It is not that these board members
do not recognize that society and business are best
run on a vision of value and values; it is that the
former predicates and dominates discussion on the
viability of the corporation. Commercial barrister
Warren Evans and others have argued that this
is because on a fateful day in October 1856, “artificial
personality was born, and the foundation
of modern corporations was laid down” (Evans,
2003, p. 98). Why is it, he asks, that corporations
have unlimited mortality and can expand to unlimited
size when real personalities, you and I,
cannot? Have we not created a monster (Evans,
2003, p.98)? Joel Bakan, co-author of the book
and the film The Corporation, goes further and
talks about “the psychopathic nature of modern
business, in which the lunatics have taken over the
asylum and have big plans for us all” (Bakan,
2004, p. 1).
But the news from board rooms suggests not
that it is the people in the board room that are
psychopaths but that the business model tends
toward psychopathology. Yve Newbold served on
the boards of many significant U.K. organizations.
She reports that:
People are surprised when I tell them that in
twenty years in the boardroom (nine at Hanson
Plc as Company Secretary, seven at BT and
three at Coutts Bank UK as a non executive
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50 Introduction
director) not once do I recall a discussion on
the moral or ethical implications of any decision
made by those boards. . . . [But she continues]
That is not to say either that the decisions taken
during those years were unethical or that the
people making them lacked an ethical frame of
reference in deciding as they did. It was simply
that the language of the boardroom was finance
and the focus was primarily the interests of the
shareholder. (Newbold, 2002, p. 13)
Boardroom discussions tend, because of the necessity
to remain financially viable, to serve investors
with a single bottom line, despite efforts to give
equal worth to a “triple bottom line” of financial,
social, and environmental performance and impact.
The company that lays waste an area of land
or lays off its workforce can stay in business if it
remains financially viable, assuming it is in compliance
and has credit, customers, suppliers, and
some employees. But the reverse is not true.
Economist Kenneth Galbraith said in 1978:
“Nothing disguises the reality of economic life
more than that there is a single theory of the firm.
. . . There is also confusion between the market
and the corporation, they are not the same . . . they
are all parts of the political economy” (Galbraith
& Salinger, 1978, p. 37). More recently, in 2004,
Klaus Leisinger from the Novartis Foundation,
when writing of the links between business and
human rights, said that it was
a feature of modern society to differentiate into
a variety of functionally specialized subsystems,
such as economy, law, politics, religion, science,
and education. . . . The quality of cooperation
of the different subsystems determines the degree
of possible synergies and allows for the
whole (society) being more than the sum of its
parts (subsystems). (Leisinger, 2004, p. 77)
So, let me introduce here the multidimensional
concept of integrity. Integrity is an enormously
useful reference point because it encapsulates the
morality of individual decision makers as well as
the well-being of the corporate body. The Oxford
English Dictionary says that integrity has three
linked meanings: the quality of being honest and
morally upright, the state of being whole or unified,
and soundness of construction. It is the
soundness of construction on the part of both the
individual and the corporation that is most interesting
because in our society there is a tendency
to reduce things to their component parts and to
fail to see the whole or to contextualize situations.
The emphasis must be on seeing corporations as
entities in their own right over which we do not
have as much control as we would like to think.
When viewed as a complex adaptive system, with
biocharacteristics, the corporation can be seen to
have a life of its own. We have given it life by virtue
of incorporation law, which created artificial
personality. The problem of controlling such an
organ is that its behavior will necessarily be selfserving.
As corporate governance expert Robert
Monks wrote in 1988:
The basic program of the corporations as selfseeking
entities wars against the interests of
human beings. Yet the living “complexity” of
corporations—their tendency towards multiplicity,
spontaneity, accommodation, adaptability,
transformation, and metamorphosis—links corporations
to us humans . . . for we too are complex
adaptive systems. (p. 190)
Many will recognize that surviving corporations
are dynamic, seemingly chaotic, innovative,
opportunistic, and transitory. In the field of CSR,
these corporations have a range of complex noncorporate
relationships involving diverse values
within various social networks where the key dynamic
is trust and love as social glue and where
people and environment have worth. From this
comes a nondeterministic view of the corporation
where there is no clear view of the future. Multistakeholder
engagement can be viewed as a form
of complex behavior where dialogue is a form of
organization, or an organizing principle, in itself.
Doreen Massey (1999) has suggested that instead
of thinking of organizations (and I would suggest,
brands) as places, it would be more helpful to
think of them as ideas or “as articulated moments
in networks of social relations and understandings”
(p. 27).
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Progressing from Corporate Social Responsibility to Brand Integrity 51
For those wishing to hold corporations accountable,
there are significant issues in complex modeling
for sustainability. First is the problem of data
collection when the boundaries of organizations are
amorphous, changeable, and connected to all other
notional boundaries. Second is the issue of inherent
uncertainty, paradox, and surprise derived from
uncertain science, or the public’s lack of understanding
and trust of science, and the interface with the
intangible values that derive from consulting with
diverse stakeholder groups. Perhaps society has now
decided that there is an imperative for social development
and environmental sustainability as iterated
in international public policy.
So, the first goal is to recognize corporations
as self-organizing systems. The second goal is recognition
of public policy objectives on economic,
social, and environmental challenges. And the
third goal is coordinating the interface between
corporations as self-organizing systems and public
policy objectives for sustainable business. This
is a significant challenge to the current way of
seeing and doing things both in the everyday world
of business and in the current CSR discourse.
To summarize, we need human-scale organizations
that have, at their heart, planetary imperatives, that
are servant leaders (where the corporation serves
society rather than vice versa), that marry value and
values, and that put integrity and trust at the heart
of the decision-making process. This means that
there needs to be a greater emphasis on accountability
and assurance and a rewriting of the rules
of incorporation; but, first there must be an emphasis
on learning and education in business and
across society as a whole. As the old African saying
goes, “To build a country first build a school.”
The same applies to our global corporations.
The sustainable human-scale corporation is
founded on sustainable conditions: small ecological
footprint, enhanced social equity, and extended
sense of futurity. Sustainable incorporation, therefore,
involves long-term life and appropriate size
(rather than immortality and unlimited size) and a
balance of power among (and accountability to) a
range of stakeholders.
We must be aware that currently we fail to see
the corporation in the whole, which means that
very often one hand of the corporation takes away
what the other promises. As President Lula of Brazil
said at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders
Summit in 2004: “Business must refrain itself
from taking away by its lobbying activities
what it offers through corporate responsibility and
Where transgressions of human rights, labor standards,
and environmental protection have been
detected, corporations have been targeted as easily
identifiable culpable parties in the supply chain
from producers, often in developing countries, to
consumers, often in the developed countries. While
the primary focus has been on corporations, there
has been less focus on product supply chains or
on brands (Hertz, 2001; Klein, 2001). It may be
that all stakeholders need to take ownership of
these issues by acknowledging that brands are
“owned” by all stakeholders. Consumers and corporations,
as well as producers, suppliers, newsrooms,
research students, and governments, are
culpable in failing to deliver publicly agreed social
and environmental goals.
Brands are a part of everyday life. Brands are
existential; they are here and everywhere. Brands
are the way we live, the way we identify ourselves.
They are amorphous and belong to all of us and
no one. Brands that have a direct interface with
consumers are more valuable than the corporations
that nominally own them. The world’s most
valued brands are Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM,
GE, Intel, Disney, McDonald’s, Nokia, Toyota,
and Marlboro. The vast majority of the world,
whether rich or poor, come into contact with one
or more of these brands on a daily basis or are
regularly affected by their use.
We need to understand more broadly and deeply
the social and ecological impact of brands. This
involves looking at global supply chains; global
trade issues; the interface between government,
corporations, and nongovernmental organizations;
and the ecological footprint of brands. Viewing the
debate from the perspective of brands paints a new
picture of a complex network of relationships
among ideas, interest groups, and products.
On any given day, average people come into
contact with some 1,500 brands, and when they
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52 Introduction
go to the supermarket (in a developed economy),
they will be confronted with up to 50,000 (Stark,
2004). They create loyalty to brands through the
establishment of superbrands or lovemarks. The
director of Unilever’s Marketing Academy, Thom
Braun (2004), writes: “Values are at the heart of
branding. . . . Brand values should not just be ‘attachments’
to a product or service, but rather the
driving force for what the brand can dare to become.”
The CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts
(2004), prefers “lovemarks”: “[T]rustmarks
come after brands; lovemarks come after trustmarks.
. . . Think about how you (business) make
the most money. You make it when loyal users
use your product all the time. That’s where the
money is. So having a long-term relationship is
better than having a trusting relationship” (Roberts,
2004, p. 69).
Seduction is everything in marketing (Barthes,
1957/1993; Baudrillard, 1979/1990). Blind tests
show that consumers prefer the taste of Pepsi to
Coke, but people buy Coke by preference. Brand
marketing theory and practice are intimately connected
with identity, lifestyle, freedom, and security
(Stark, 2004). In Corporate Religion, Jesper
Kunde (1978) writes: “[T]he highest position a
brand can reach is that of Brand Religion for the
target group” (p. 3). In 1956, Roland Barthes (1957/
1993) wrote, regarding the launch of the new
Citroen Pallas DS saloon car: “Cars today are almost
the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals:
I mean the supreme creation of an era,
conceived with passion by unknown artists, and
consumed in image if not in usage by a whole
population which appropriates them as purely
magical objects” (p. 88).
Corporations are the nominal owners of brands,
but greater control is exercised by consumers and
other stakeholders. Corporations realize their mistakes
when they corrupt their own brands, as in
the case of Coke’s changed recipe in the 1990s.
Similarly, Monsanto became a dirty word in
Europe in the 1990s through the company’s mishandling
of sensitivities regarding the issue of genetically
modified foods.
A new approach to the subject of CSR is needed
that moves the emphasis from the corporation to
society as a whole, but not by putting the responsibilities
in another place, but in all places. The
way to do this is to examine those things that now
affect and implicate all of us every day: global
brands. This does not relieve the corporation of
its responsibilities to increase total stakeholder
value, which includes providing financial value to
the shareholder, but it shifts the focus of the debate
from the organizational and sectoral setting
to the delivery of goods, services, and dreams.
Central to this is a new understanding of nongovernmental
public action as evidenced through activism,
consumer choice, passive resistance, and
stakeholder engagement.
The corporation is but one part of the delivery
of goods and services that society uses. Accusing
corporations of abnegating their responsibilities
toward the communities in which they operate and
toward the planet is too easy. It is an example of
the way in which issues are broken down into their
component parts, to look for a mechanical fix to
a disaggregated problem. Looking at the whole
may be more difficult to handle but may, in the
end, help produce more practical and useful solutions.
This approach crosses national boundaries;
it reaches into our most intimate moments; it
follows brands from cradle to death, from raw
material to disposal, from design concept to consumption,
from corporations to cathedrals.
The most highly valued consumer brands are worth
more than the corporations that own them. Coke,
McDonald’s, Mercedes, and Microsoft are some of
the best-recognized global brands, but there are also
other more mundane brands that can be found in
most homes around the world—Dove soap and
Colgate toothpaste, for example.
Theory and practice of corporate responsibility
have tended to focus on the responsibility of
corporations. Brands are more difficult to account
for, more amorphous in their ownership. As Kevin
Roberts (2004) of Saatchi & Saatchi writes, “the
best brands enjoy ‘loyalty beyond reason’” (p. 57).
Global supply chain management, economies of
scale, distribution, logistics, and brand management
are at the heart of the most profitable retail
corporations. The supply chain for Unilever’s Dove
soap stretches from poor palm oil farmers to consumers
globally—rich and poor.
Much has been written about the ecological footprint
of cities, industrial sites, and products, but not
so much on brands per se. Taking Unilever’s Dove
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Progressing from Corporate Social Responsibility to Brand Integrity 53
soap as an example, we can begin to build a rich
picture of complex relations among stakeholders,
the raw materials, and the use and disposal of the
product via manufacture, processing, packaging,
marketing, retailing, and international trade and
governance issues. Unilever sources the raw materials
here and there, sells everywhere, and manufactures
in some places but not in others. Much of
this depends on international trade regulations. In
2000, Unilever was one of the first companies to
associate itself with the United Nations Global
Compact. Principle 1 of the compact states: “Businesses
are asked to support and respect the protection
of international human rights within their
sphere of influence”; principle 2: “Businesses are
asked to make sure their own corporations are not
complicit in human rights abuses.” The questions
that arise are: What is the sphere of influence of a
business? How might we better understand the limits
to accountability and responsibility? At what
point do responsibilities become societal rather than
corporate? At what point does responsibility lie
with the company and at what point with the individual
and the government? Does knowing human
rights abuses are committed in a territory in which
a company has operations, or even sells, imply complicity
with those abuses (Leisinger, 2004; Mendes,
The burgeoning interest in multidisciplinary
approaches and complexity theory helps link the
disparate aspects of this research focus on brands.
A holistic approach to the economic, psychological,
management, ecological, and governance aspects
of global brands is needed to make progress
in each of these separate areas. The field of corporate
responsibility has become mired in the atomization
of indicators for corporate performance
on social and environmental impacts. Complexity
theory helps us see brands as complex adaptive
systems that may have a life of their own.
Brands have diffuse ownership and multiple reputations.
A product such as Dove soap has a multiplicity
of lives but key essential “meanings” that
plug into our most basic social, emotional, and
spiritual needs: hygiene, smell, seduction, price,
packaging—love, peace, and happiness (Cilliers,
1998; Gergen, 2001; McIntosh, 2003b; Monks,
1988). The ubiquity of brands across global
socioeconomic and socioecological groups has
been at the forefront of the development of the
global economy from Dove soap to Toyota cars
to Coke.
Just as interesting is the analysis of global social
networking where it is possible and common
for individuals to connect around an idea or a
brand and disperse as quickly as they congregate.
Indeed, the congregation may never be physical,
but electronic. Thomas Rheingold (2004) calls
these groups “flash mobs”—a “new form of social
interaction.” They can also be thought of as
“liquid relationships.” The web of life has come
alive and been significantly democratized by the
technology of communication (Castells, 2001).
This is the future of nongovernmental public
action, encountered through virtual ideas groupings
such as Al Qaeda and Amnesty International,
but also through the collective purchasing choices
of consumers worldwide. What Osama bin Laden
understands about the world is similar to what
Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi and Unilever’s
marketing director know about seduction,
brainwashing, co-option, and manipulation.
Advocates for the poor as well as the corporate
responsibility movement need to study these
new phenomena and, in particular, the disaggregation
of societies, where, through the establishment
of virtual communities, many people in the
developed world are choosing to physically live
alone. The current research seems to show that
there are some common features across the developing
and developed world that support the idea
that brand integrity is going to become a much
more prominent issue. Particularly in the United
States, but also elsewhere, a meaningful life is
defined as a spiritual life. This is part of people
trying to make sense of an increasingly cluttered
and complex world. Today, self-reliance has been
defined by technology. What some refer to as the
“attention economy” means that it is possible to
access vast amounts of information, to contact
people instantly, and remain constantly in touch.
The themes that seem dominant, and that relate
to global brands (Coke, Dove, Toyota, etc.)
and global groupings (Al Qaeda, Amnesty International,
the Olympics), are designs and concepts
that reach across humanity and transcend other
human concerns, such as local politics and family
relationships; values and spirituality in life; living
the simple life; and finding balance between work
and play.
For corporations and other brand holders, such
as the United Nations, the BBC, and the Olympic
Games, the implications are clear: the public in the
shape of consumers, activists, employees, and oth-
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54 Introduction
ers have a great awareness of the values that a
particular brand or corporate entity embodies.
They are increasingly aware of all aspects of products
from sourcing to manufacturing to use to
Now that we have global technological communications
literacy in the developed world, nongovernmental
public action in all forms will hold
all established actors (government, corporations,
and respected civil society groups) to account.
John Elkington and Julia Hailes published The
Green Consumer Guide in 1988, and it sold a
million copies in the United Kingdom alone. A
similar book, by Alice Tepper Marlin, originally
published a year later, sold a million copies in the
United States. This desire for consumer information
was matched by other publications from the
Consumers Association and the Ethical Consumer.
New Consumer’s Changing Corporate Values continued
the drive for changing corporate behavior
through the empowerment of consumers—a real
form of nongovernmental public action (Adams,
Caruthers, & Hamil, 1991). Now the public has
access to vast amounts of information. But while
the availability of products with organic, fair trade,
and ethical trade labeling has increased significantly
all over the world, the ability of consumers
to understand, digest and, most important, believe
in this labeling shows signs of having reached a
By painting rich pictures of the impact of certain
brands, it is possible to make the connection
between the emerging new literature on global
communications connectivity and social networking
and brand integrity. How can both these labels,
the old and the new, build brand integrity and
increase their sales to publics who purchase on the
basis of value and values in an information-rich
If the hypothesis is correct that brand recognition
is about loyalty beyond reason and that public
policy is increasingly formulated on the basis of
human rights, labor standards, environmental protection,
and liberalized markets, then a possible future
is that consumers globally will look both at the
Dove label and at the symbol of the bird of peace
with an olive branch in its beak, alongside some form
of labeling that confirms that none of the globally
agreed principles of corporate citizenship and sustainability
have been transgressed in its production.
In a similar vein, by way of conclusion and
taking the project forward, it is necessary to look
at some of the more successful globally recognized
social and ecolabeling (Forest Stewardship Council,
Marine Stewardship Council, Soil Association)
and speculate on the possibility of future global
brands that uphold the sort of principles enshrined
in the United Nations Global Compact—such as
the Olympic Games, the BBC, the United Nations,
and Oxfam.
How about: “UN—just do it!”
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Progressing from Corporate Social Responsibility to Brand Integrity 55
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