Corporate Social Responsibility

“Corporate Social Responsibility: Evolution of a Definitional Construct” from the September 1999 issue of Business & Society, currently appears in the most read articles list based on full-text and pdf views.

Professor Archie B. Carroll has graciously provided additional information regarding his process in writing the article.

Tell the story behind the article. What prompted you to do this research and write this article?

I wrote this article because the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR) was central to my thinking, teaching and research and I realized there had not been a history of the concept written before. When I got into the research I was amazed at how many different, varied, but similar, definitional constructs had appeared in the literature. I went back to the 1950s because I concluded that was the beginning of the modern period for CSR.

Why do you think this research is important? Why are people reading it and who else should be exposed to it?

Every year there are a growing number of new scholars coming into the Business and Society field. It is vital for them to know and appreciate what scholars before them had already contributed to the literature. This is so they would not be beginning at ground zero and have to do this research themselves. This article is fairly exhaustive of the literature from the fifties to the nineties. People are reading it because they want to have an appreciation of how this concept has developed over the decades. Scholars around the world have discovered CSR and this article is a quick way to get caught up on the past half decade.

Give us a specific review of the impact of this article. What additional research has this article led to (either your own or other’s)?

Since the article’s publication in 1999 (over a decade ago!) the field has grown significantly. I have gotten many requests for the article from all over the world. This article played a role in my being selected to write an entire book on the History of Corporate Responsibility that is being co-authored by myself, Ken Lipartito, James Post and Patricia Werhane. Kenneth Goodpaster and David Rodbourne of the University of St. Thomas are the editors. The book, which you can learn more about at our website, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. Our book covers the U. S. perspective and a later volume will cover the history of the concept outside the U. S. I sense that scholars are getting more interested in the history and other articles and books are now coming out.

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