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Corporate Social Responsibility
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This challenging and somewhat controversial book provides a critical perspective on contemporary discourses of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee questions the win-win assumptions of CSR and identifies the limits of the good that corporations can do, illustrating that the ability of firms to enhance social welfare is constrained by their current form and purpose; that of a shareholder value maximizing entity.The book shows how supranational institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization are complicit in an 'economic capture' of social issues through a combination of material, institutional and discursive power that results in undermining economic democracy. Taking a political economy perspective, the author analyzes recent conflicts between transnational corporations and local communities in developing countries and exposes the limits of stakeholder theory in addressing the needs of marginalized communities. He concludes by discussing alternatives to the current system that could result in meaningful social outcomes, and provides a critical research agenda for CSR.
Linking theory to practice, this critical look at corporate social responsibility will provide much material to fuel the debate amongst academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of management, international business and marketing.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'This is a tour de force that carefully assembles and incisively interrogates perhaps the most pressing problem of our age: how to harness the resources of corporations to tackle global problems of poverty, oppression and environmental degradation? Banerjee does not present us with glib pronouncements or simplistic fixes. Instead, he brilliantly illuminates the scale of the challenges and lucidly assesses the relevance and value of CSR responses to date.'- Hugh Willmott, University of Cardiff, UK'Bobby Banerjee takes on the popular mythologies of neo-liberal corporate social responsibility with enviable flair and a thoroughness of scholarship that will dismay its apologists. His critique extends from the origins of the modern corporation and its well-known abuses and excesses to far harder targets - the more attractive alternatives that have been developed for theory and practice that, as Banerjee shows brilliantly, only serve to mask continuing neo-colonial abuses. Banerjee is not content simply to expose the impossibilities of doing good works whilst maximizing shareholder value, the win-win view of CSR, but he bites the bullet with some uncompromising but realistic proposals for the future reconstruction of CSR both as a field of study and as a business practice. We have needed this exposure of the bad and the ugly for a long time. The current versions of CSR are simply just not good enough.'- Stephen Linstead, University of York, UK'Banerjee pulls the beguiling mask off corporate social responsibility. Taking the vantage point of the world's poor, he shows CSR to be a cruel hoax - corporations' cynical effort to undermine growing demands for economic and environmental justice.'- Paul S. Adler, University of Southern California, US'This book problematizes the win-win assumption underlying discourses of CSR and suggests that it is a rhetoric that is invariably subordinated to that of corporate rationality. Rather than see CSR as providing the means to transform corporations by advocating a stakeholder view of the firm it argues that CSR represents an ideological movement designed to consolidate the power of transnational corporations and provide a veneer of liberality to the illiberal economic agenda of the major global institutions.'- Stewart Clegg, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia 'Professor Banerjee offers us a refreshing analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in an otherwise comparatively turgid literary landscape. People may disagree with his criticism that because of its preoccupation with shareholder value, the corporation is an inappropriate A"agent for social changeA" but it is backed up by strong theoretical and substantive empirical analysis. In the absence of legislation, he argues, corporations will protect the interests of shareholders and other primary stakeholder groups such as employees or creditors rather than the interests of vulnerable communities that are the victims of socially and environmentally destructive corporate practices. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with what might be seen as the most serious dilemma of our age.'- David Knights, University of Keele, UK'Bold, insightful and ambitious, this important and provocative book exposes the contradictions and hypocrisies of corporate social responsibility. Dr Banerjee draws from a wealth of knowledge and thought to develop an accessible and compelling analysis that locates corporate social responsibility in its historical, legal, social, and political context. This is a rare work that looks beyond the A"win-winA" rhetoric of corporate social responsibility to examine the impact of corporate power in the global political economy on development, human rights, and the environment.'- David Levy, University of Massachusetts, US