The boundaries of strategic corporate social responsibility

by Lantos, Geoffrey P.
Journal of Consumer Marketing ()


Reviews the development of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) concept and its four components: economic, legal, ethical and altruistic duties. Discusses different perspectives on the proper role of business in society, from profit making to community service provider. Suggests that much of the confusion and controversy over CSR stem from a failure to distinguish among ethical, altruistic and strategic forms of CSR. On the basis of a thorough examination of the arguments for and against altruistic CSR, concurs with Milton Friedman that altruistic CSR is not a legitimate role of business. Proposes that ethical CSR, grounded in the concept of ethical duties and responsibilities, is mandatory. Concludes that strategic CSR is good for business and society. Advises that marketing take a lead role in strategic CSR activities. Notes difficulties in CSR practice and offers suggestions for marketers in planning for strategic CSR and for academic researchers in further clarifying the boundaries of strategic CSR.

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