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Theories of corporate social responsibility
Pure Marketplace Ethics Libertarian Marketplace
(Shareholder Theory)
Social Marketplace
(Shareholder Theory)
Shared Value Stakeholder Theory - Soft Progressive Corporate Social Responsibility Triple Bottom Line / Sustainability Stakeholder Theory - Hard
Theories of corporate social responsibility distributed across tensions
Social and
Environmental Engagement
Freedom versus Happiness Individualism versus Collectivism Independence versus Belonging Dignity
versus Compassion
Progressive Corporate Social Responsibility
corporate social responsibility


Respect for laws, regulations and commonly accepted codes for operation

Virtue: do what's right and fair



1) Gear decisions to the economic rules of the marketplace

2) Check for compliance with the letter (and potentially with the spirit) of applicable laws, regulations and accepted practices

3) After satisfying responsibilities 1 and 2, act virtuously: those interacting with the business (especially employees, suppliers, consumers, members of the surrounding community) should be treated honestly, with respect and generosity.

4) After satisfying responsibilities 1, 2, and 3, contribute to charitable causes operating outside the immediate scope of business activity.

  Key concepts

Values are decreasingly pressing as the pyramid ascends: responsibilities located higher on the pyramid are taken on only after more fundamental responsibilities have been discharged.

Social and environmental concerns located outside the scope of business activity hold independent value, and are recognized. They are pursued to the extent economically possible

  Hard questions

How do you know when a lower value is sufficiently satisfied to allow the move up the pyramid of concerns?

"Isn't charity theft (from shareholders)?"
Why do executives get to decide the destiny of donations instead of shareholders?
What is philanthropy when it is provided with other people's money?


Factories belonging to Imperial Sugar Company (John Sheptor, CEO), and Malden Mills (Aaron Feuerstein, CEO) burn to the ground, but employee payroll is maintained through the reconstruction process. (Compare with Howard W. Lutnick, Chief Executive of the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm located in the NYC World Trade Center. Four days after 9/11, and before anyone even knew just how many had died, Mr. Lutnick cut off paychecks.)

anonymous donor

The Chick-fil-A restaurant chain closes on Sundays; the In-N-Out burger chain promotes John 3:16 on its cups:

  Prime philosophical theory compatibilities Duty theory, Utilitarianism, Rights theory, Culturalism  
  Human values

Human dignity derived from compassion (as opposed to dignity as foundational and compassion deriving from dignity)

Harmony and fitting into society valued above individual freedom and independence

Collective welfare as the source of individual opportunity and welfare (successful individuals arise from good communities as opposed to good communities being an effect of successful individuals)

  Associated notable figures Archie B. Carroll  
  Branding connect Volunteers at Boeing
  Branding misconnect Pushback against philanthropy (Starbucks, TOMS Shoes, Soros)
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