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The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice


  • Archie B. Carroll,

    Corresponding author
    1. Director, Nonprofit Management & Community Service Program & Robert W. Scherer Professor Emeritus, Department of Management, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA, and
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  • Kareem M. Shabana

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor of Management, School of Business, Indiana University Kokomo, 2300 S. Washington Street, Kokomo, IN 46904, USA
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In this review, the primary subject is the ‘business case’ for corporate social responsibility (CSR). The business case refers to the underlying arguments or rationales supporting or documenting why the business community should accept and advance the CSR ‘cause’. The business case is concerned with the primary question: What do the business community and organizations get out of CSR? That is, how do they benefit tangibly from engaging in CSR policies, activities and practices? The business case refers to the bottom-line financial and other reasons for businesses pursuing CSR strategies and policies. In developing this business case, the paper first provides some historical background and perspective. In addition, it provides a brief discussion of the evolving understandings of CSR and some of the long-established, traditional arguments that have been made both for and against the idea of business assuming any responsibility to society beyond profit-seeking and maximizing its own financial well-being. Finally, the paper addresses the business case in more detail. The goal is to describe and summarize what the business case means and to review some of the concepts, research and practice that have come to characterize this developing idea.