As globalization has continued to increase, corporate social responsibility is no longer a concept that is exclusive to developed Western nations. In fact, more and more it is becoming the norm for global corporations to seek out business opportunities in the developing markets, particularly emerging nations such as China. Peter and Olson (2002) claim that multinational firms entering in the Chinese market have been motivated by the Chinese economic reforms in late 1970s and accession into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Moreover, state of the art business technologies and patterns have led foreign firms to introduce CSR into the domestic Chinese market. The entry of multinational corporations (MNCs) into the Chinese market initiated CSR and activities associated with corporate social responsibility in China could nonetheless be seen back in 1970s and 1980s (Idowu & Leal, 2008). As a result, before the economic reforms in 1978, in addition to the economic responsibilities, corporations took on extra projects which were previously considered the responsibility of the government such as constructing schools, day care centers and even public bureaus.
Over the years, significant attention and thought has been directed towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) globally. As a concept, it requires organizations, especially MNCs, to cater for every stakeholder involved in the operations of companies, extended by the obligations made through laws but adheres to the existing legislation. Corporate Social Responsibility is, therefore, tied to development that is sustainable to serve corporate activities and social engagement. As a matter of fact, many various authorities and scholarly experts have provided explanations about the benefits of CSR.
As an idea, CSR has its roots in the US. In 1934, the concept of the Modern Company and Private Property first uttered the increasing command of managers in the corporate world. They conducted an investigation into the revolutionary changes within the economy of the U. S. The term corporate conscience was defined by Adolf Augustus Berle in 1954, and this was considered to be the early stage of CSR (Baker & Saren, 2010). Therefore, Adolf Augustus Berle is regarded by academics as the initiator of CSR as the research he conducted is considered to be the foundation for investigating CSR.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which comprises 120 companies operating internationally, investigates economic development and justifiable development. They define CSR as a continuous commitment by corporation to ethically and make contributions to the growth of the economy while making relevant improvements to the worker’s worth of life as well as their the local municipal, families, and society at large (Buhmann, 2005). However, it also mentions that there is no universal definition of CSR. Nonetheless, this does not deter CSR’s development. This concept spread fast and various enterprises now employ CSR (Buhmann, 2005). For example, the BP Group in U.K, which is among the largest companies involved in energy production that mainly deals with petroleum, has received criticism and condemnation from environmentalists since its establishment. Their unfavorable working conditions were exposed to the public and as a result, they face huge challenges to their reputation. In 2002, the firm began the production of environmentally friendly green energy. Later, around 2005, the company was involved in the ‘Beyond Petroleum’ campaign aimed at reducing pollution and ensuring sustainable development. This strategy helped the company repair its reputation and in developing a brand new image. Therefore, good CSR activities act as an appropriate strategy for improving the reputation and other positive attributes of a firm (Bichta, 2003). At nine percent annually from 2000-2011, China dwarfed each major country in the global economy, as seen in Figure 1. This can be attributed to the state’s productivity success to the labor force and functioning infrastructure with rails, roads, subways and highways included. Through comparison, countries such as Brazil have under-invested in infrastructure and education, which is now influencing its overall development.
Figure 1. Growth in productivity for selected countries (China, Brazil, India, and U.S.) between 2000 and 2011.
In theory, Triple Bottom Lines (TBL) policy is the basis of CSR. It comprises three bottom lines that are related to financial, social, and environmental results. The financial bottom line considers the company’s performance at the financial level of the company, ensuring profitability to provide the company with the needed support, and the promotion of economic growth (Kakabadse & Morsing, 2006). The social bottom line deals with the public’s safety and well-being, for example, workers, consumers, and other vulnerable groups in society (Kakabadse & Morsing, 2006). The environmental bottom line encompasses the security of the setting and investment in business that is sustainable.
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