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2010/2011  KAN-CMF_F51  Corporate Social Responsibility - Ethical, Political and Strategic Perspectives

English Title
Corporate Social Responsibility - Ethical, Political and Strategic Perspectives

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Autumn
Pending schedule: Week: 36-38, 40, 40-46: Wednesday, 13.30-15.10 Week 39,43: Wednesday, 13.30-16.05 Week 41: Wednesday, 13.30-17.00 Week 47: Wednesday 11.40-13.20
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy
Course Coordinator
  • Steen Vallentin - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy
Main Category of the Course
  • Business Ethics, value based management and CSR
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Learning Objectives
After following the course, students are expected to:
  • be familiar with and able to compare, analyze and critically reflect upon the concepts, theories and perspectives relating to CSR and business ethics that have been presented and discussed during the course
  • understand and be able to explain and reflect upon conceptual developments in the field of CSR
  • understand and be able to explain and reflect upon the range of arguments that can used for and against CSR
  • understand and be able to explain and reflect upon current research developments in CSR
  • be able to exemplify concepts and theories by relating them to present day challenges met by private businesses and other organizations
Corporate Social Responsibility - Ethical, Political and Strategic Perspectives
Exam Period December/January
Individual oral exam based on a synopsis, either written individually or in groups of up to 4 students. Length of synopsis: 1 student: a maximum of 3 pages. 2-4 students in groups: a maximum of 5 pages. Duration of oral examination: 20 minutes, including deliberation and feedback. Students from cand.merc.(phil.), for whom the course is mandatory, will have the option to take the exam (and write the synopsis) in Danish. Form of evaluation: internal censorship with grading according to the 7-step grading scale
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

The aim of the course is to provide students with in-depth knowledge of current developments in the broad field of CSR (corporate social responsibility). Developments not only in terms of corporate activities and trends, but also in terms of the thinking about business and its role in society that conceptions of CSR involve. Thus, the course engages students in discussions of the ethical and political aspects and ramifications of CSR while also strongly emphasizing the practical and strategic dimension of corporate responsibility. The course provides an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the frontiers of knowledge in the field as many of the most significant recent research contributions are read and discussed.

The course is divided into two introductory sessions, two modules and a concluding wrap-up. The first session is used to present an outline of the course and introduce its main themes and perspectives. The second focuses on the fundamental, often ideologically tinged, criticisms that CSR have been subjected to. Module 1 provides a critical introduction to notions of ethics and problems of responsibility. This includes critical discussions of traditional business ethics and the challenges posed to such ethics by (a) Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of modernity and his postmodern ethics, and (b) the ethics of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Module 2 provides a broad and critical exploration of current developments in CSR. First, it presents a seminar where students interact with a group of invited guests that each represent a particular take on CSR. Second, it provides some critical reflection on the pros and cons of strategic CSR and a critical discussion of the business case for CSR. Third, it accounts for the communication-, sensemaking- and implementation aspects of CSR. Fourth, it explores CSR as a socially embedded phenomenon reflecting institutional differences, and fifth, it shows how CSR can be approached and analyzed as a political phenomenon. Of course, the themes of the individual lectures will be overlapping and there will be an abundance of cross references throughout. The final wrap-up will summarize the contents and discussions of the course, evaluate proceedings and look forward to the exam.

Teaching Methods
Class time will include lectures, occasional presentations by the students and discussion groups in which students will explore theoretical perspectives and apply them to specific cases.

Ghoshal, S. (2005): “Bad Management Theories Are Destroying Good Management Practices”. Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 4/1Jones, C., M. Parker & R. ten Bos (2005): For Business Ethics (1-19). London: Routledge. Friedman, M. (1962): “Social Responsibility of Capital and Labor”. In: Capitalism and Freedom (133-136). USA: The University of Chicago Press. Friedman, M. (1970): “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”. In: Hoffman, W.M., Frederick, R.E. & Schwartz, M.S. (eds.) (2001): Business Ethics – Readings and cases in Corporate Morality (156-160). USA: McGraw-Hill. Crook, C. (2005): “The Good Company – A sceptical look at corporate social responsibility” (3-18). The Economist, January. Reich, R.B. (2007): “Politics Diverted”. Ch. 5 in: Supercapitalism (168-208). USA: Alfred A. Knopf. Case: Coca-Cola Raman, K.R. (2007): “Community-Coca-Cola Interface – Political-Anthropological Concerns on Corporate Social Responsibility”. Social Analysis, vol. 51/3: 103-120. Parker, M. (2002): “The Business of Business Ethics”. Ch. 5 in: Against Management (91-114). Padstow, Cornwall: Polity. Frederiksen, C.S. (2010): “The Relation Between Policies Concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Philosophical Moral Theories – An Empirical Investigation”. Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 93/3: 357-371. Additional reading (not included in curriculum) Dubbink, W. & Liedekerke, L. (2009): “A Neo-Kantian foundation of Corporate Social Responsibility”. Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, vol. 12/2: 117-136. Bauman, Z. (1989): “The Ethics of Obedience (Reading Milgram)”. Ch. 6 in: Modernity and the Holocaust (151-168). GB: Cornell University Press. Bauman, Z. (1993): “Moral Responsibilities, Ethical Rules”. Ch. 1 in: Postmodern Ethics (16-36). GB: Blackwell. Bauman, Z. (1994): “The Rise of Reason: Bureaucracy and Business”. In: Alone Again: Ethics After Certainty (3-14). GB: Demos. Additional reading (not included in curriculum) Milgram, S. (1974): “The Dilemma of Obedience”. Ch. 1 in: Obedience to Authority (1-12). USA: Harper. Roberts, J. (2003): “The Manufacture of Corporate Social Responsibility: Constructing Corporate Sensibility”. Organization, vol. 10/2: 249-265. Jones, C. (2003): “As if Business Ethics Were Possible, ‘Within such limits’ ...”. Organization, vol. 10/2: 223-248. Frederick, W.C. (1978/1994): “From CSR1 to CSR2: The Maturing of Business and Society Thought”. Business and Society, vol. 33/2: 150-164. Zadek, S. (2007): “Introduction: Beyond the Mainstream”. In: The Civil Corporation, revised edition (1-25). UK: Earthscan. Porter, M.E. & Kramer, M.R. (2006): “Strategy & Society – The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility”. Harvard Business Review, December Issue: 78-92. Gond, J-P, Palazzo, G. & Basu, K. (2009): “Reconsidering Instrumental Corporate Social Responsibility through the Mafia Metaphor”. Business Ethics Quarterly, vol. 19/1: 57-85. Additional reading (not included in curriculum) Vogel, D. (2005): “Is There a Business Case for Virtue?”. Ch. 2 in: The Market for Virtue – The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility (16-45). Harrisonburg, Virginia: Brookings Institution Press. Ziek, P. (2009): “Making sense of CSR communication”. Corporate Social Responsibility & Environmental Management, vol. 16/3: 137-145. Basu, K. & Palazzo, G. (2008): “Corporate Social Responsibility: A Process Model of Sensemaking”. Academy of Management Review, vol. 33/1: 122-136. Maon, F., Lindgreen, A. & Swaen, V. (2009): “Designing and Implementing Corporate Social Responsibility: An Integrative Framework Grounded in Theory and Practice”. Journal of Business Ethics, Supplement 1, vol. 87: 71-89. Case: the tobacco industry Friedman, L.C. (2009): “Tobacco Industry Use of Corporate Social Responsibility Tactics as a Sword and a Shield on Secondhand Smoke Issues”. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol. 37/4: 819-827. Matten, D. & Moon, J. (2008): “ ‘Implicit’ and ‘Explicit’ CSR: A Conceptual Framework for a Comparative Understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility”. Academy of Management Review, vol. 33/4: 404-424. Campbell, J.L. (2007): “Why Should Corporations Behave in Socially Responsible Ways? An Institutional Theory of Corporate Social Responsibility”. Academy of Management Review, vol. 32/3: 946-967. Case: The Danish Government “Action Plan for Corporate Social Responsibility” (2008) NOT IN COMPENDIUM – TO BE DOWNLOADED FROM WWW.CSRGOV.DK) Shamir, R. (2008): “The age of responsibilization: on market-embedded morality”. Economy and Society, vol. 37/1: 1-19. van Oosterhout, J. & Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. (2008): “Much Ado about Nothing: A Conceptual Critique of Corporate Social Responsibility”. In: A. Crane, A. McWilliams, D. Matten, J. Moon & D.S. Siegel (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility (197-223). UK: Oxford University Press.