The definition of Corporate Social Responsibility in China.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is beginning to gain attention from businessmen, academics and other non-business individuals as it is becoming increasingly important for corporations to perform their business in a socially responsible manner. It is important nowadays to adopt CSR because various stakeholder groups, crucial to a corporations business, are expressing concerns about the social and environmental impact a business has. At present, with numerous environmental problems such as global warming due to high energy consumptions and social problems such as cheap wages for employees working under hazardous conditions, business that may worsen such problems are not considered sustainable. Therefore corporations are beginning to adopt CSR.
The problem with CSR is that academics and businessmen are finding it difficult to reach an agreed definition of CSR. The general view of CSR as the business worlds interaction with society is understood well by many, however every businessman, corporation, and citizen has a different perspective about what actual responsibilities should encompass CSR. The wide range in the CSR concept poses problems for those want to benchmark a firms CSR performance. Benchmarking is crucial for stakeholders in order for them to know whether a firm is sustainable or not. Therefore journals and reports are becoming increasingly concerned about the vagueness of CSR.
There are various underlying motivations as to why corporations engage in socially responsible business. Many CSR practices are for reasons such as to respond to key stakeholder groups, to legitimize their business practices and to hedge against potential financial risks. Culture is another underlying driver for CSR as it builds moral values in the society enabling citizens to make judgement on business practices. This creates the demand for corporations to be more socially responsible. In addition, the perceived importance of various environmental and social responsibilities within CSR is influenced by culture as well. Hence, culture is the key to understanding why CSR has emerged in business practices.
Several cross-cultural studies on CSR have been carried out. Holme & Watts (2000) have researched CSR in their study, Making good business sense and identified various definitions of CSR in eight countries: The Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, The Philippines, United States, Ghana, Brazil and Argentina. Chapple & Moon (2005) have also researched CSR across different Asian countries and found CSR to differ significantly among them. They also state that the variations of CSR among the Asian countries are unlikely to be related to the development of the country. Welford (2005; pg 33) compares CSR in Europe, North America and Asia. His study finds out many of the CSR policies that corporations adopt are influenced by localised issues and cultural traditions at a country level. Welford also explains that Asian countries are not necessarily less developed in terms of CSR compared to the western societies (Europe and North America). Overall, past studies have indicated how CSR differs according to country, thus this paper intends to research CSR in countries that have not been investigated yet.
The current paper compliments the study by Holme & Watts (2000) by further investigating CSR definitions in China and the types of social environmental responsibilities Chinese corporations believe are important. The findings will be compared to the definitions from the eight countries. Websites from top 13 firms in China are used to carry out the present study.
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