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Untangling rhetoric and reality in the CSR debate – the role of corporate social responsibility in effective business strategy

By M. Loosemore and F. Phua

Abstract

While there is a strong moral case for corporate social responsibility (CSR), the business case for CSR is certainly not irrefutable. A better understanding of how to integrate CSR into business strategy is needed but with ever increasing momentum towards sustainability as a business driver, it is often difficult to untangle the rhetoric from reality in the CSR debate. Through an analysis of eight case studies of leading firms from throughout the construction supply chain who claim to engage in CSR, we explore how consulting and contracting firms in the construction and engineering industries integrate CSR into their business strategy. Findings point to an inherent caution of moving beyond compliance and to a risk-averse culture which adopts very narrow definitions of success. We conclude that until this culture changes or the industry is forced by clients or regulation to change, the idea of CSR will continue to mean achieving economic measures of success, with ecological goals a second regulated priority and social goals a distant third.\ud \u

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:17617

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