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Discovering a Wilderness of Regulatory Mechanisms for Corporate Social Responsibility: Literature Review

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Abstract

The principle of voluntarism dominates Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) literature. However, this principle does not correspond with the empirical evidence of the role of governments in the CSR field. Moreover, studies discuss various regulatory mechanisms to stimulate CSR as used by government, businesses, and society. Since the debates on CSR governance are dispersed across various articles and lack systematic analysis, this paper adopts a structured literature review to study the variety of regulatory mechanisms that influence CSR. In order to explore these regulatory mechanisms, we have made an in-depth analysis of 186 practice-based articles published in the period from 2002 to 2011. These articles were selected from five journals in the CSR field. Based on these 186 empirical articles, (1) we detected 32 different regulatory mechanisms for stimulating CSR and promoting sustainable development; and (2) we offer a discussion of various examples of these mechanisms and an analysis of the effectiveness of their implementation. Based on this discussion, we argue in favour of a plethora of various regulatory mechanisms in support of CSR.

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A critical question for policy-makers is how far disclosure of social and environmental impacts can be an effective means to improve corporate behaviour. To make it effective, a number of other criteria for reporting must also be met (Adams 2002): the issues that can be reported on must match the interests of stakeholders there must be a measure or a metric that accurately captures performance and can be applied across organisations (ideally across sectors and geographic boundaries) that measure or metric should be audited that measure or metric should be communicated to the appropriate stakeholder(s); and the relevant stakeholder(s) should respond.
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Environmental NGO–business collaborative partnerships, commonly called green alliances, are encouraging corporate enviropreneurship, entrepreneurial innovations that address environmental problems and result in operational efficiencies, new technologies and marketable ‘green’ products. Aside from offering environmental, scientific and legal expertise, environmental NGOs can provide linkages to other societal stakeholders, referred to as strategic bridges, to support enviropreneurial initiatives. This article focuses on the linkage capabilities of environmental NGOs by developing an extended strategic bridging framework that articulates necessary process contingencies and engagement strategies for building effective bridges with environmental stakeholders. Propositions are advanced and tested in an analysis of the alliance between Greenpeace and Foron Household Appliances in Germany during 1992–93 for the marketing of an environmentally responsible refrigerator. Stakeholder characteristics and partnership outcomes reveal managerial implications and conceptual extensions of strategic bridging in green alliances, and future research directions are discussed. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
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Purpose – This paper seeks to take stock of core arguments in some of the most central governance traditions and to discuss their capacity to deliver solutions. It starts with an appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas of market-, state- and civil-society-led governance, but also factors in the effect of media and communication as governance arenas in their own right. Then it aims to review core arguments put forward in broader approaches to governance where multiple governance mechanisms are combined. Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper that reviews central approaches in the governance literature and their ability to further sustainable development. The review is taken as a basis for tentative formulations of new supplementary governance approaches. Findings – Out of the critical analysis the paper distils is an approach to governance that combines three basic elements: First, a re-interpretation of Montesquieu's principle of checks and balances – applied not only to state institutions, but also to the interplay between the state, markets and civil society. Second, an argument for polyarchic, multilevel governance, where flexible institutional frameworks, at various levels of aggregation, allow actors to jointly engage in developing governance. Third, it argues that open communication may constitute an important governance element. It ends by recognising that global governance, going forward, will include a mix of parallel governance models, in some ways competing for hegemony, but supporting one another in other ways. Originality/value – The originality/value of the paper lies in its critical assessment of central current governance theories and in its launch of new supplementary governance approaches.
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to note the remarkable expansion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Taking this as point of departure, it aims to discuss the potential for aligning CSR-oriented industrial self-regulation with public governance to fill some of the governance gap in the global economy. Design/methodology/approach – The paper provides a conceptual discussion, empirically underpinned by three case studies. Findings – The paper finds that it is plausible, and empirically supported by the case studies, to conceive of a considerable role for CSR based self-regulation in the global economy. A central precondition is the ability of civil society organizations to establish “moral rights” as credible voices for “just causes” in a media-driven communicative society, and thereby put pressure on brand sensitive industry. The paper finds that corporate self-regulation may fill a larger part of the governance gap if public policy is oriented to engage with industry in a partnered mode. Research limitations/implications – The paper establishes a conceptual base for exploring the governance implications of CSR, casuistically underpinned by three case studies. Further studies are needed, however, to explore the scale and scope of partnered governance in the global economy. Practical implications – The paper provides insights into an approach to increase governability of the global economy. Originality/value – The originality of the paper lies in exploring the implications of CSR for governance, and for highlighting how the governance potential may be enhanced by reorientation of public policy.