The contested terrain of corporate philanthropy and social responsibility

Theories, approaches and challenges

Authored by: Michael Moran , Elizabeth Branigan

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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The purpose of this chapter is to examine two distinct but closely related concepts: corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Both have seen increasing prominence over the last few years. This can be explained by reference to a range of contextual factors. First, the reconfiguration of the role of the state and the rising power of the firm within the economy and society has led to calls for firms to assume responsibilities beyond their traditional role as an engine of economic growth. Second, this has been coupled with increased demands from the nonprofit sector for resources, as the sector has grown and government funding has become more thinly spread and increasingly scarce. Third, external pressure from civil society organizations critical of corporate behaviour, combined with internal claims that corporate philanthropy and CSR can have tangible and intangible benefits to the firm, has precipitated a mainstreaming of such practices. Indeed calls for greater responsibility have become so ubiquitous that since the early 2000s corporate philanthropy and CSR have become a mainstream function of almost all large firms in industrialized states, albeit with varying degrees of integration, efficacy and authenticity.

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