Search for contacts, projects,
courses and publications

Corporate Social Responsibility


Seele P.

Course director


Course objectives
Understanding the complex interplay between business and society 
Understanding the background of sustainable development and corporate responsibility by major scandals
Different theoretical stances of CSR Theory
Best practices of CSR
Pitfalls of CSR: Greenwashing, Hypocrisy 
Finally: Developing CSR Strategies for different corporate actors

Course description
The role of corporations in society has been discussed for many decades. In the light of globalization, corporations are becoming more and more transnational, and the question of their responsibilities has been raised and discussed. In addition, climate change and unethical behavior (even if not against the law), as well as human rights discussions, have influenced the debate. Along with the shift from a mere shareholder point of view to a more integrative stakeholder point of view social and environmental responsibilities and the idea of sustainable development has entered the scene. On the one hand, the rule of thumb is: "Do no harm". On the other hand, corporations are also seen as an answer to the problems by living up to their social and environmental responsibilities.

The overarching concept to address the role of businesses in society is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The course discusses – with a particular focus on communication – latest trends in standardizing and reporting CSR, in implementing CSR, e.g., in supply chains, the role of the consumer and the thread of greenwashing, and last but not least the philosophical foundations of CSR and business ethics.

Learning methods
Lectures, case studies, workshops, dialogue 


Examination information
Exam 100 %

Required material
Core Readings

  • Mark Schwarz: CSR an Ethical Approach (2011)
  • Edward Freeman: Stakeholder Theory – The State of the Art (2010)

Further Readings

  • Lock, Irina; Seele, Peter (2016): The credibility of CSR reports in Europe. Evidence from a quantitative content analysis in 11 countries. Journal of Cleaner Production. 122. 186-200. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.02.060
  • Porter, M.; Kramer, M.: Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review (2011) 63-77
    • Scherer, Palazzo, and Baumann: Global Rules and Private Actors. Business Ethics Quarterly (2006) 16 (4): 505-532.
  • Seele, Peter; Gatti, Lucia (2015): Greenwashing Revisited: In Search for a Typology and Accusation-based Definition Incorporating Legitimacy Strategies. Business Strategy and the Environment. DOI: 10.1002/bse.1912
  • Walker and Wan: The Harm of Symbolic Actions and Green-Washing. Journal of Business Ethics (2012) 109: 227-242.
  • Werther and Chandler: Strategic CSR (2011) Ch.4: The Strategic Context of CSR, 85-114.
  • Werther and Chandler: Strategic CSR (2011) Ch.5: Implementation, 119-152.
  • Yawar/Seuring (2014). Social Issues in Supply Chains. JBE 141: 621-643