Essay Example on Corporate Social Responsibility

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1008 Words
Date:  2022-12-18

Corporate social responsibility is a concept of businesses adopting sustainable development techniques that benefit the community in which they operate. The understanding of corporate responsibility varies according to various businesses and countries; but the general idea is that the businesses should be aware of their impact on the society, environment, and economy in which they operate. The concept addresses topics such as contribution to economic development, working conditions, environmental effects, health, security, and human rights. Corporate social responsibility has taken on many forms over the years. As a result, there is a need to discuss the historical journey and comparison of corporate social responsibility during the 20th and 21st century.

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Most people consider the American economist Howard Bowen as the father of corporate social responsibility (ACCP, n.d.). In his book, Social Responsibilities of the Businessman, Bowen advocated for businesses to have ethics and responsiveness to societal stakeholders (Bowen, 1953). However, it was not until 1971 that the Committee of Economic Development (CED) declared the social contract between business and society. The CED used the concentric circle's analogy to stipulate that the core purpose of business is economic performance (Asmah, 2009). According to the analogy, the innermost circle consists of the primary functions of business that it must fulfill for it to continue operating efficiently. The inner circle consists of functions such as a business making profits for its shareholders. Then there is the intermediate circle, which introduces social responsibilities. According to the CED, a business must continue to assume the roles of the inner circle while being aware of the social implications of its actions (Asmah, 2009). Then there is the outer circle, which consists of issues that may not have a positive or negative impact on the operations of the business. Nevertheless, according to Asmahe (2009), the society has a right to solicit and expect the help of a business where they feel that it has the resources to solve the problems in the society and improve the environment in which the business operates. As a result, the concept of corporate social responsibility took hold in the 1970s because the attitude that the society had towards businesses changed. There was a growing trend in people's line of thinking in which companies were viewed to have a moral obligation towards society (ACCP, n.d.). In today's world companies are expected to have a significantly larger contribution towards the society than their products or services for sale. As a result, there has been a shift in the concept of social responsibility in the 20th century and the 21st century.

Based on CED's 1971 illustration of corporate social responsibility, it can be understood that companies needed some motivation to have a social responsibility, and in most cases, the motivation was increased profits. The CED concentric circles analogy placed profits at the center of a company's goals. That means that companies were required to undertake the role of social responsibility with the aim of financial gain. Also, even though a company was expected to be aware of the impacts of their actions on society, they had to ensure that such activities do not compromise their core purpose of making profits. The outer circle of CED's illustration outlined that the community had a right to seek help from the company (Asmah, 2009). However, the company had no obligation to intervene even if they have the financial resources to help the situation. That means that motivation played a big part in corporate social responsibilities in the 20th century. The social responsibility of business was dictated by their ability to profit from it.

The corporate responsibility of the 21st century is different from that of the 20th century mostly because companies have changed their attitude towards the matter. Although monetary gain is still a factor in the 21st century, the core purpose of business has changed. Some companies have emerged that prioritize good over profits. Some business leaders no longer believe in profits over social good. According to Hunt (2017), more businesses are seeing value in putting social good ahead of company profits. There are a serious shift and movement that extends beyond individual companies and taking up a purpose for social goods (Hunt, 2017). The 21st century is still in its early stages, and if the current trend is anything to go by, companies will start adopting new models that place social good at the core of their business. That goes to show the contrast that exists between corporate social responsibility in the 21st and 20th century.

Despite the difference in the way companies practice social responsibility in the 20th and 21st century, there is still a similarity between the two centuries. For starters, there is the fact that corporate social responsibilities always results in increased profits regardless of the motivation behind it. Whether it's from increased publicity or customer preference for the brand due to their contributions, the act of social good is almost always financially rewarding for the business. As a result, one can easily conclude that the action of corporate social responsibility and profits are interdependent.


Corporate social responsibilities are gaining traction in the 21st century. There is no common ground when it comes to corporate social responsibility, but stakeholders now view social responsibility as an essential part of doing business. Business leaders have recognized the need to take part in solving the problems of the society in which they operate. Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century places social good over social responsibility unlike in the 20th century where profits were prioritized over social good. However, corporate social responsibility has proven to be rewarding to businesses.


ACCP. (n.d.). Corporate Social Responsibility: A Brief History. Retrieved from Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals:

Asmah, G. (2009). Corporate Social Responsibility: Does Motivation Matter. Warwick: University of Warwick.

Bowen, H. R. (1953). Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. Iowa City: University of Iowa.

Hunt, M. (2017, April 28). Purpose over profit movement gains the respect of the investment community. Retrieved from Entrepreneur:

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