Home > Alex, CSR > Is omnidirectional CSR possible?

Is omnidirectional CSR possible?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a vast topic. Books upon books are written in relation to proper CSR implementation, the philosophical rationale for corporate actions, and role of government in the whole process. But even if you subscribe to Freidman’s philosophy and think that the only responsibility of the business is to make profit, you cannot deny the existence of  powerful CSR enforcement mechanisms, such as governments, NGOs, and media.

Governments have considerable power in legislating corporate conduct, an example of this will hopefully be the Dodd-Frank act in the US. NGOs influence from such institutions such as Amnesty International is also considerable. But these mechanisms bleak in comparison to the speed with which mass media is able to convey the shortcomings and achievements of corporate CSR to company’s clients, thus either punishing or rewarding its management for proper CSR policy. Events in 1997 with Nike will remain a classic example of how media can influence corporate behaviour. But interestingly enough, since then Nike has become a notable proponent of CSR, it is able to collaborate (or pressure with purchasing power) with suppliers to better the working conditions for the factory workers.

However what is interesting is that I was unable to find an example where a supplier could pressure its customers to become socially responsible. It seems that as soon as any leverage, such as legislative or purchasing power, is removed from the equation, implementing CSR becomes a lot more difficult. What are your thoughts on suppliers’ ability to influence CSR changes in B2B and B2C markets, as well as in competitive or monopolistic ones?

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