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There has been much written about globalisation – some of it positive and much of it negative. It is a subject which arouses definite opinions. Despite the fact that the word globalisation is part of the title of this book it is not our intention to contribute to this debate. Instead we use the word globalisation in its original sense to represent the ubiquity of the concern for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is the subject matter of this book. Specifically we are concerned with the social contract between an organisation and itsstakeholders.

Recognition of the rights of all stakeholders and the duty of a business to be accountable in this wider context therefore has been largely a relatively recent phenomenon. The economic view of accountability only to owners has only recently however been subject to debate to any considerable extent. Some owners of businesses have however always recognised a responsibility to other stakeholders and this is evident from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Thus, for example, in the nineteenth century Robert Owen (1816, 1991) demonstrated dissatisfaction with the assumption that only cost minimisation and the consequent profit maximisation was the only thing of concern to a business. Furthermore he put his beliefs into practice through the inclusion within his sphere of industrial operations the provision of model housing for his workers at New Lanark, Scotland. Further examples of socially responsible behaviour have continued to exist since these days. Thus there is evidence from throughout the history of modernity that the selfcentred approach of accounting for organisational activity only to shareholders was not universally acceptable and was unable to satisfactorily provide a basis for human activity.

Implicit in this concern with the effects of the actions of an organisation on its external environment is the recognition that it is not just the owners of the organisation who have a concern with the activities of that organisation. Additionally there are a wide variety of other stakeholders who justifiably have a concern with those activities, and are affected by those activities. Those other stakeholders have not just an interest in the activities of the firm but also a degree of influence over the shaping of those activities. This influence is so significant that it can be argued that the power and influence of these stakeholders is such that it amounts to quasi-ownership of the organisation.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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