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The Relation Between Policies concerning Corporate Social Responsibility and Philosophical Moral Theories - An Empirical Investigation

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This paper examines the relation between policies concerning Corporate SocialResponsibility (CSR) and philosophical moral theories. The objective is to determine whichmoral theories form the basis for CSR policies. Are they based on ethical egoism,libertarianism, utilitarianism or some kind of common-sense morality? To address this issue,I conducted an empirical investigation examining the relation between moral theories andCSR policies, in companies engaged in CSR. Based on the empirical data I collected, I start bysuggesting some normative arguments used by the respondents. Secondly, I suggest thatthese moral arguments implicitly rely on some specific moral principles, which Icharacterise. Thirdly, on the basis of these moral principles, I suggest the moral theoriesupon which the CSR policies are built. Previous empirical studies examining the relationbetween philosophical moral theories and the ethical content of business activities havemainly concentrated on the ethical decision-making of managers. Some of the mostprominent investigations in that regard propose that managers mainly act in accordancewith utilitarian moral theory (Fritzsche and Becker, 1984; Premeaux and Mony, 1993;Premeaux, 2004). I conclude that CSR policies are not based on utilitarian thinking, butinstead on some kind of common-sense morality. The ethical foundation of companiesengaged in CSR thus does not mirror the ethical foundation of managers.

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Claus S. Frederiksen

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eng

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application/pdf

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http://hdl.handle.net/10398/7822

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