Corporate Social Responsibility: Philanthropy or Commercial Interest?

Corporate Social Responsibility: Philanthropy or Commercial Interest?

In recent years firms have greatly increased the amount of resources allocated to activities classified as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). While the increase in the CSR budgets is viewed as a philanthropy, on the inside of the firm it is the managers that are willing to over invest for their own private benefit to be proceeded as good citizens. However stakeholders see the CSR budgets as a marketing plan to influence consumers to enjoy their products and maximize their profits and hopefully market shares.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a very controversial topic. A question that has been debated for the past few decades is; is it corporately viable to introduce social responsibility as a proposed addition to the work ethic of business organizations. As well as, if adopting the framework of corporate social responsibility would yield positive improvements for those organizations.

The discussions of the “social responsibilities of business” are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that “business” has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.

Although Milton Freedman believes that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

Why let a factory that pollutes our environment get a way with it, if in return they could plant trees all over the country. That’s considered CSR. Sadly, I feel that CSR in Jordan is not a philanthropy, it nothing but a commercial interest. Corporations choose CSR to advertise their “good will” schemes; however they all go for SOCIAL CSR projects for the sake of the publicity rather than serving their environment, employees and their market place.

CSR refers to the corporation’s obligation to all its stakeholders. It stems from the desire to do well and get self-satisfaction in return as well as from societal obligation of business. This could be a strategic marketing activity in a way for a company to do well by doing something distinct from sales promotion, corporate philanthropy, corporate sponsorship, and public relations. Now, it is assumed to be the responsibility of the business houses too.

To put it in a nutshell, CSR and cause-related marketing result in increased sales, visibility, consumer loyalty and enhanced company image along with positive media coverage. Now companies have started focusing on society and its needs under the umbrella of CSR. However, their employees are NOT an integral part of this service. Companies in Jordan support giving back to the society, but have caused a conflict in the work place because their CSR policies do not support the welfare of their employees.

Before going Corporate on Social Responsibility, I believe, it should start individuals with the support of corporate teams. Your CSR is not about showing the public what your organization stands for through a well planned marketing media plan, or public relations out-reach, it’s great, and it makes a difference, but it is usually volunteers in my opinion that make CSR possible, they could be stakeholders or your employees themselves, getting people involved, making the spirit of giving back to society bigger and more authentic not planned with numerous press releases on the front page of local papers the next day.

Random as this may sound, in August of 2009 a non-for-profit organization called Nakhweh was launched, according to their website “ is your means for giving back to communities in the Arab world. The website offers a variety of services to support nonprofit communities, initiatives and volunteers who are committed to social change.” In the spirit of CSR, Giving back to the society and making Jordan a better place, I urge all of you to volunteer… Let the scales of CSR balance between Commercial Interest and Philanthropy…


Director of Digital Marketing Strategy by Day, Blogger by Night. Mother to my lovely Hana and a food addict.

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  1. mozna al dajani : August 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

    mabruuk… good work.

  2. Thank you auntie Mozna 🙂
    Miss you much

  3. Dear Sleepless,

    First thing I’d like to do is applaud you for your blog. You never fail to comment on meaningful social topics with relevant and well thought-out ideas.

    As for this issue of CSR, I think Milton Friedman got it right, and in a way so did you. Social responsibility begins (and should end) with individuals. What we do as individuals might eventually affect society as a whole, but the point is that it should start with us if we believe enough in a certain cause or campaign. On the other hand, as Friedman so eloquently phrased it, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…” That’s why there is a difference between for-profit corporations, not-for-profit corporations, and non-profit organizations.

    As to your point regarding a corporation’s loyalty to its employees. I absolutely agree, as the wheels that keep the engine turning in every corporation, employee welfare and job security should be a top priority. So when you ask “Why let a factory that pollutes our environment get a way with it, if in return they could plant trees all over the country”, the answer is quite simple. As noble as it may sound, planting trees all over the country doesn’t generate profit, and more importantly it doesn’t hire thousands of employees. And I’m willing to bet my own money that if you asked any of those employed at the polluting factory if they would rather keep doing their existing jobs, or give them up for the sake of the environment, not a single one will favor the environment over his/her own welfare, as well the welfare of their families. On the other hand, if they are STILL feeling the itch of planting trees to counteract all the pollution, then by all means they can donate a chunk of their paychecks towards that cause.

    At the end of the day, corporate social responsibility should first and foremost be reserved for the humans living in the society before moving on to other — equally important — matters. After all, what’s the point of living in the cleanest, least polluted environment if nobody is around to work and live in that place?

  4. What I love about this blog is that it’s writing about everything I wanna write about. As a fellow blogger it should inspire a bit of healthy jealousy in me, forcing me to pay attention to my blog as well, but on the other hand I’m happy someone is addressing these important issues.

    However, the post was too long for me to read on a friday morning after all-nighting, I promise I’ll read it later and add a constructive comment, but all I wanted to say before rambling on and digressing was, kudos to you!

    • Thank you 🙂
      In real life when am not blogging, I talk too much and almost never hush up, so I cant see my self blogging about ONE TOPIC, that would be boring, and eventually I would run out of things to say lol

      Whats your blog link, I would be more than happy to follow a “fellow blogger”.

      P.S: Sweet Dreams

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