What are Firms Responsible for? CSR, Value Creation and Public Scrutiny

Cranmer, Laurence (2007) What are Firms Responsible for? CSR, Value Creation and Public Scrutiny. Said Business School Working Paper 2018-09.

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In this paper I discuss some ideas about the nature of corporate responsibility. This is primarily a conceptual analysis. I start with a very wide claim: the idea that firms have some responsibility for the outcomes of their actions appeals to at least two widely held views. First, that these outcomes have an ethical significance that allows us to describe them as good and bad outcomes or a combination of both. Second, that we are in general responsible for the good and bad outcomes of actions that we intend or can reasonably foresee. I suggest that these two widely held views are at the heart of the current debate about corporate social responsibility.

If we accept these two views about good and bad outcomes and about responsibility as reasonable I suggest that this raises a series of complex issues for firms. I consider two of these issues.

First: what is the extent of corporate responsibility for outcomes. As one route into this issue I suggest developing an extended view of value creation across supply chains and beyond. This view seeks to take into account the whole range of good and bad outcomes of business activity as a basis for analysing the extent of corporate responsibility.

Second: firms are subject to public scrutiny for these outcomes. Firms may be called upon to give a public account of their activities and to set out publicly the actual extent of the responsibilities that they assume. This suggests that corporate responsibility is an aspect of public reason. One route into this issue is to sketch out whether and how an idea of public reason can provide an approach to considering the extent of corporate responsibility.

Item Type: Oxford Saïd Research Paper
Keywords: Corporate responsibility, CSR, value creation, business ethics, public scrutiny
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2018 18:39
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2018 18:39
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/6757

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