Evolution of the Conceptualization and Practice of Corporate Social responsibility: A Review

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Asegid Getachew Woldeamanuel, M. Umma Devi


Corporate social responsibility is a concept that has garnered the attention of academic researchers, managers of firms, activist groups, governments, and various societal units. It started with the philanthropic responsibilities of firms to various social causes. But with time, it got broader in application. As a result, CSR is considered a vital element of an organization's strategy in its current practice.

This review article aimed to clarify the diverse conceptualizations of CSR as well as the shift in its evolution.The objective of the review was to create an understanding of the conceptual and evolutionary shift of CSR. The review was based on articles secured from research databases. A total of 38 articles( selected out of 138 based on a content evaluation) were used. The result indicated that CSR was defined (at least semantically) differently by several authors. However, there existed a common theme in all the definitions of these authors. The result also indicated that the concept of CSR has evolved from a mere philanthropic gesture to a strategic initiative that organizations undertake to secure a sustainable future. This implies that CSR is the reflection of economic, social and political realities of a specific time. Trends indicate that it will continue evolving to keep pace with the dynamism in the global organizational environment.

The review is expected to be helpful as it provides a picture of CSR's conceptual and evolutionary journey. It also serves as evidence to show how economic, social and political factors that transpire with time influence the practice of CSR. Last but importantly, it may serve as an input for researchers who want to explore th issue further

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