Defining Corporate Social Responsibility: A Systems Approach For Socially Responsible Capitalism

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Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
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Although the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been advocated for decades and is commonly employed by corporations globally, agreement on how CSR should be defined and implemented remains a contentious debate amongst academia, businesses and society. This gap is problematic for corporations because they are increasingly being required to align with societal norms while generating financial returns. In order to remedy this problem, the following definition is presented: corporate social responsibility is a business system that enables the production and distribution of wealth for the betterment of its stakeholders through the implementation and integration of ethical systems and sustainable management practices. Many of the concepts in the proposed definition are commonplace amongst CSR practitioners and organizations, the validations for the key segments – production and distribution of wealth, stakeholder management, ethical systems, sustainable management practices – coupled with the application of a systems approach and other business practices make the definition unique and conclusive. An in depth review of the definition and supporting concepts will provide the needed vision and knowledge to enable corporations to successfully manage CSR strategies.

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Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics in the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Advisor: Alan M. Barstow
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