University of Twente Student Theses


Corporate social responsibility in the European Union : a concept in need of a hybrid multi-level governance solution

Esken, B. (2011) Corporate social responsibility in the European Union : a concept in need of a hybrid multi-level governance solution.

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Abstract:Corporate social responsibility is a concept embedded in the idea of sustainable development which embraces all those actions, operations and initiatives by businesses that contribute to an improvement of social and environmental issues by voluntarily going beyond the corporations’ legal obligations. Such undertakings have to be in line with the businesses’ legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities, besides the given economic ones. Thereby, they have to reflect the needs and interests of all their relevant stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, the general community and the environment. At European Union level, the initial approach to CSR has failed. Voluntary selfregulation in form of the so-called business case for CSR has not resulted in a satisfying situation, as the mere economic perspective of the industrial actors did not foster the philanthropic idea of corporate social responsibility. There is a deadlock in the debate on how CSR should be regulated. While the business world and the European Commission seek to maintain corporations’ freedom for self-regulation, the ‘social camp’ – led by NGOs and the European Parliament – calls for stricter regulatory means to foster CSR. It has to be kept in mind though that the concept’s implicit voluntariness is a characteristic that has to be retained. Having a look at the evolution of the concept CSR and the development of its regulation at the EU level, the paper focuses on potential regulatory measures at the international and global level, the EU level, as well as the national levels of the EU member states. Furthermore, the private business level and society in general are taken into account. As a result, a hybrid multi-level governance solution for CSR based on Werhane’s alliance approach is presented in an integrative model wherewith a compromise between the ‘business case’ and the ‘social case’ to CSR is created.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies BSc (56627)
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