Corporate social responsibility: the 3C-SR model

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Business in society scholars have developed many theoretical frameworks intended to map and measure business organisations’ roles and impacts in civil society.

However, over 50 years since Bowen (1953) published his seminal Social Responsibilities of the Businessman , management practitioners in general still prefer the narrower economic orientation of the Chicago School to a broader acceptance of social responsibilities. Why does this view persist in the face of overwhelming evidence that its associated externalities present clear and present dangers to society? In this paper, the authors argue that adoption of corporate responsibility (CR) in the commercial world has been limited, to those areas offering economic gains, because scholars have not provided adequate conceptual resources to help managers integrate other aspects of CR into their corporate strategies and operations.

To support this claim we first evaluate several well-known models of CR to establish the overriding focus on definition, scope and measurement (at the expense of implementation). This will establish the paucity of conceptual tools with which to realise a strategic, operational and market relevant approach to CR. We will then outline a processual model of CR that we term the 3C-SR model and explain how it may help bridge the gap between academic exhortation and practitioner actionability. Finally, we offer some initial ideas on how the model can be implemented to deliver a competitive strategy built on social resources that offers triple bottom line benefits.