Information Center: Dissertation/Thesis, corruption

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Joseph Kraus
January 9, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as both a concept and programmatic activity, has grown rapidly. Yet despite its proliferation, there remains a lack of empirical studies that assess CSR’s ability to generate sustainable development. Proponents of CSR christen it the new development paradigm and the solution to 50 years of failed development efforts based on their view that multinational corporations are the only entities in the world with the technology, resources, capacity, and global reach necessary to effectively accomplish sustainable development. Critics, on the other hand, condemn CSR as corporate window dressing that fails to address the root causes of underdevelopment. In reality, insufficient empirical evidence of CSR efforts in developing countries exists to draw any definitive conclusions about their impacts on development. This study, drawing upon fieldwork in Equatorial Guinea, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of CSR projects implemented in a developing country context. Among other findings, this study suggests that CSR programs can represent a mechanism for pressuring recalcitrant governments to invest greater financial and human capital in social service programs, but they also can be used for public relations purposes by political regimes with poor human rights and governance records to improve their images with both international and domestic audiences.

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