Corporate Responsibility and a Firm's Reasons for Acting

Cranmer, Laurence (2009) Corporate Responsibility and a Firm's Reasons for Acting. Said Business School Working Paper 2018-08.

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In this paper I consider the issue of corporate responsibility though a discussion of the types of reasons that may be given for a firm’s actions and outcomes. These reasons may variously be given by the firm as explanation or justification, or by persons affected by the firm as endorsement or critique, or as part of the public policy debate about the scope and limits of a firm’s activities.

To provide a structure for this analysis I outline a model that seeks to describe the possible extent of a firm’s responsibility for the outcomes of its activities through an idea of four dimensions of value. This locates firms along a minimal-maximal spectrum of corporate responsibility, without assuming where this location might be for any particular firm.

I then discuss the question of reasons. This starts with some thoughts about agency and responsibility, and then considers the distinction between various types of reasons. I use the minimal-maximal spectrum to map out the various arguments.

I group the arguments under the following headings: four dimensions of value; a minimal-maximal spectrum of corporate responsibility; reasons and agency: individual responsibility; reasons and agency: corporate responsibility; minimal corporate responsibility; formal and informal reasons; internal and external reasons; reasons and minimal responsibility: four examples of an appeal to ethical significance; wide and narrow instrumentalism; instrumentalism and self interest; further issues; concluding comments.

This arguments presented in this paper are part of an attempt to analyse the conceptual issues that arise from corporate responsibility. Many of these arguments are suggestions, others are more fully developed. I have included both. I hope these ideas stimulate further discussion.

Item Type: Oxford Saïd Research Paper
Keywords: Corporate responsibility, business ethics, CSR, firm's reasons for acting
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2018 18:36
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2018 18:36

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