The Relation Between Policies concerning Corporate Social Responsibility and Philosophical Moral Theories - An Empirical Investigation

Claus Strue Frederiksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperResearch

234 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines the relation between policies concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and philosophical moral theories. The objective is to determine which moral theories form the basis for CSR policies. Are they based on ethical egoism, libertarianism, utilitarianism or some kind of common-sense morality? To address this issue, I conducted an empirical investigation examining the relation between moral theories and CSR policies, in companies engaged in CSR. Based on the empirical data I collected, I start by suggesting some normative arguments used by the respondents. Secondly, I suggest that these moral arguments implicitly rely on some specific moral principles, which I characterise. Thirdly, on the basis of these moral principles, I suggest the moral theories upon which the CSR policies are built. Previous empirical studies examining the relation between philosophical moral theories and the ethical content of business activities have mainly concentrated on the ethical decision-making of managers. Some of the most prominent investigations in that regard propose that managers mainly act in accordance with utilitarian moral theory (Fritzsche and Becker, 1984; Premeaux and Mony, 1993; Premeaux, 2004). I conclude that CSR policies are not based on utilitarian thinking, but instead on some kind of common-sense morality. The ethical foundation of companies engaged in CSR thus does not mirror the ethical foundation of managers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCenter for Corporate Social Responsibility, CBS
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9788792114204
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
SeriesCSR and Business in Society: CBS Working Paper Series

Cite this