The Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibiiity: Toward the Morai Management of Organizational Stakeholders Archie B. Carroll
F or the better part of 30 years now, corpo-rate executives have struggled with theissue of the firm's responsibility to its soci- ety. Early on it was argued by some that the corporation's sole responsibility was to provide a maximum financial return to shareholders. It became quickly apparent to everyone, however, that this pursuit of financial gain had to take place within the laws of the land. Though social activist groups and others throughout the 1960s advocated a broader notion of corporate respon- sibility, it was not until the significant social legis- lation of the early 1970s that this message be- came indelibly clear as a result of the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Ad- ministration (OSHA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
These new governmental bodies established that national public policy now officially recog- nized the environment, employees, and consum- ers to be significant and legitimate stakeholders of business. Erom that time on, corporate execu- tives have had to wrestle with how they balance their commitments to the corporation's owners with their obligations to an ever-broadening group of stakeholders who claim both legal and ethical rights.
This article will explore the nature of corpo- rate social responsibility (CSR) with an eye to- ward understanding its component parts. The intention will be to characterize the firm's CSR in ways that might be useful to executives who wish to reconcile their obligations to their share-
Social responsibility can only become reality if more man- agers become moral instead of amoral or immoral.
holders with those to other competing groups claiming legitimacy. This discussion will be framed by a pyramid of corporate social respon- sibility. Next, we plan to relate this concept to the idea of stakehold- ers. Einally, our goal will be to isolate the ethical or moral compo- nent of CSR and relate it to perspectives that reflect three major ethical approaches to manage- ment-immoral, amoral, and moral. The princi- pal goal in this final section will be to flesh out what it means to manage stakeholders in an ethi- cal or moral fashion.
EVOLUTION OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
W hat does it mean for a corporation tobe socially responsible? Academics andpractitioners have been striving to estab- lish an agreed-upon definition of this concept for 30 years. In I960, Keith Davis suggested that social responsibility refers to businesses' "deci- sions and actions taken for reasons at least par- tially beyond the firm's direct economic or tech- nical interest." At about the same time, Eells and Walton (196I) argued that CSR refers to the "problems that arise when corporate enterprise casts its shadow on the social scene, and the
The Pyramid of...