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Corporate Social Responsibility


Lock I.

Course director


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 have entered the scene. On the one hand the rule of thumb is: "Do no harm". On the other hand, corporations are seen also as 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.


100% exam.


Reading suggested for acquisition

Mark Schwarz: CSR an Ethical Approach (2011)

Edward Freemann: 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