Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Corporate Social Responsibility. A Critical Review

Eduardo Ibáñez Ruiz del Portal, Juan Antonio Senent de Frutos


Within the context of the European Union, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been revised in its 2011-2014 strategy to conform with a concept including new features that deal with the impact of business in society. We aim at denouncing the false debate between a compulsory or voluntary vision of CSR because the voluntariness would be in the process but not in its concept. CSR resurfaces with a vengeance after a period of reflection caused by the deep economic and social crisis. Our analysis intends to situate this concept in a critical and historicized perspective of CSR, inspired by a critical theory of society and the historicizing of concepts proposed by Ellacuría. Amartya Sen has also worked on the relationship between ethics and economics and the development of the capability approach as a way of measuring development; this approach may help to enforce the basic premise of CSR that was qualified as a weakness by Professor Stefano Zamagni due to its support of companies’ reputational issues. At a moment when global capitalism is under revision and the environmental and social unsustainability of the current economic system has become evident, CSR could play a role or at least make a proposal to improve not only the visibility of companies, but also the legitimizing of a category of practices that could ultimately be unsustainable.

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