Corporate Social Responsibility – a hoax?

Having analyzed the circumstances of AKO MISMO as an act of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), I thought that there could be more to the concept than just one of “organized charity.”

In a recent NBER working paper, three economists (Forest Reinhart, Robert Stavins, and Richard Vietor) find good academic reasons to expect and see the modern corporation as an entity willing to promote social goals for public relations or for goodwill.  In a sense, the corporation “sacrifices” part of the profit that would normally go to its shareholders.  The economic story is no different from that which says that humans are willing to be altruistic and voluntarily help others.

Others question the motives of those who engage in CSR. For example, here’s a paper by Godfrey Mugurusi that suggests it could also be just another hoax.  If a PR entity is not transparent, it’s doing astroturf, an unethical practice.

I believe each case of CSR can be considered on its own merits.  For example, if a corporation such as Microsoft has much market power, it pays for it to be a good global citizen, lest the governments of many countries decide to enforce antitrust laws strictly against the corporation.

As to the CSR-minded corporations in the Philippines, you can be the judge.  In the case of AKO MISMO, the entity behind it is DDB Philippines.  Wikipedia lists among DDB’s clients some of the major corporations operating in the country.  Among them are McDonald’s, Johnson and Johnson, Robinson’s, and Smart Telecom.

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