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International Comparative Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility: Democratising Corporate Governance in the Global Economy

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Introduction

INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: DEMOCRATISING CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY Key Words: Corporate Social Responsibility, International Comparison, North-South Divide Abstract This symposium provides a cross cultural, global and comparative perspective on the contemporary topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The symposium is based on the assumption that the actual issues and challenges for CSR is highly dependent on the regional/national historical, cultural and institutional legacies in which corporations operate. Thus the first aim is to provide on overview of the state-of-the-art in the academic debate on CSR from major regional perspectives of the globe. These include North America and Europe as representatives of the developed world where CSR and related concepts have been developed and discussed for a considerable time. However, the symposium mirrors the fact that through globalization corporate actors face new challenges especially when moving beyond the frontiers of the industrialized world. Therefore a specific focus is put on the developing world by examining CSR in the context of one of fastest growing regions (Asia) as well as a typical issue for CSR in the less developed world, namely biodiversity and intellectual property rights. Next to these different agendas of CSR in different regions of the world the second aim of the symposium is to expose the converging effects of globalization on CSR. On a global level, transnational actors such as inter- and non-governmental organizations work on a similar playing field as corporate actors. It is increasingly on this level that corporate responsibility and accountability becomes an issue. One of the key topics of discussion encouraged by the symposium is the question of how corporate accountability and control can be adjusted and restored in an age where democratically legitimised institutions face increasing impediments to the control of economic, social and political processes. Symposium Overview 1. Introduction The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) draws on both aspects of the Academy of Management's 2003 theme, Democracy in a knowledge economy. ...read more.

Middle

The comparative emphasis of Japanese CSR on environmental standards reflects the impact of templates for reporting environmental performance provided by the government (Fukukawa, Gow and Moon in progress). The relatively advanced environmental responsibility of Dutch business in general, and the financial sector in particular, reflects a national sense of environmental vulnerability and government incentives and encouragement for business to develop environmentally friendly practices (Jeucken 2002). Notwithstanding the apparent straightforward examples, overall national CSR systems reflect dense patterns of norms, institutions, incentives and rules. These not only inform the scope and nature of CSR through their impact on business alone but also through their impact on the responsibilities that government and societal actors (e.g. churches, community organisations, churches) adopt, which in turn offer space, boundaries and entry points for CSR. 5. Globalisation Three related features of globalisation, in particular - liberalization, communication and the information and knowledge revolutions - present new motivations for increased international business. It therefore might be hypothesised that globalisation would erode CSR as national regulatory and norm-based frameworks are of decreasing relevance to increasingly internationalized business. More specifically, on the demand side, narrowing growth opportunities in western markets and potentials in new markets attract western businesses aiming to transcend problems of cyclical demand associated with individual economies. On the supply side globalisation offers the prospect of cheaper raw materials and some labour costs. In this context the power and size of multi-national corporations (MNCs) raises the question of their need to conform to the sorts of national governance systems which formerly underpinned CSR and which might have tempered issues of inequality of consumption and use of non-renewable resources anticipated by 'anti-globalisers' (see Hertz 2001; Klein 2000). Conversely are the new governance structures also associated with globalisation (some of which MNCs participate in) able to encourage and enhance CSR in a globalising world? (e.g. International Business Leaders' Forum, CSR Europe, UN Global Compact, Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia). ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, the symposium has a strong potential for cross-fertilization between SIM and other management disciplines, especially International Management. International Management (IM) The symposium explores the topic of CSR from a comparative cross-national perspective. As such, CSR is one of the most topical concerns in the study of multinational organizations which ranks highly on the contemporary research agenda in international management. The symposium on the one hand exposes different national and regional approaches to CSR in the industrialized and the developing world. On the other hand, the symposium looks at the question of how far globalization leads to a convergence in issues, actor constellations and corporate responses in the area of CSR. By this, the symposium highlights another facet of the highly contemporary debate on divergence vs. convergence in international business. Organization and the Natural Environment (ONE) One of the key drivers behind the debate on CSR from the beginning has been the relation between businesses and their natural environment. The symposium explores this relationship and highlights the role various issues play in different national and cultural contexts. Especially on the global level and in the developing world, the maintenance of the balance between organizations and their surrounding ecosystems is of increasing importance. The symposium provides a multi-stakeholder perspective to these issues and exposes the interconnectedness of ecological issues with topics for other Academy divisions, such as IM and SIM. Symposium Format The symposium is designed as a presenter symposium including 5 paper presentations. Given our comprehensive international comparative approach we intend to have the symposium as a 120 minutes symposium. Favouring a highly interactive session, the five paper presentations will be no longer than 15 minutes. With maybe one or two clarifications at the end of each presentation this would take no more than 80 minutes altogether which leaves 40 minutes for plenary discussion. We deliberately refrained from having a discussant as the last paper will already relate to the issues brought about in the two pairs of preceding papers ('first' and 'third' world perspective) and thus will open up the floor for discussing the issues raised in the symposium. ...read more.

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