Timely Case Studies in CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility: A Case Study Approach, edited by Christine A. Mallin (Hardcover – June 30, 2010) takes a look at the worldwide  phenomenon of CSR, almost ex-USA, which has been extensively covered by others. Few are as qualified to edit such a volume as Mallin, who proved herself capable of screening out the best from hundreds of articles submitted during her years editing the prestigious Corporate Governance: An International Review (CGIR).

The book includes overviews of CSR in Europe, in Islamic financial institutions and of accounting, disclosure and human rights in the oil industry, as well as studies in Spain, Russia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea and Japan. Some chapters focus on specific companies, like Sabaf in Italy, the Body Shop and its transition, and the experience of Gunns, a pulping company, in Australia. All are informative, emphasizing conclusions, key points and items for further discussion.

Interestingly, the one case study from the USA covers the American Gaming Association (AGA) and the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG). The AGA isn’t likely to come to mind immediately when one thinks of CSR in the States. Apparently, they learned from the tobacco industry and sought to get ahead of the curve, especially to improve public relations and forestall additional regulation.

Kate Spilde Contreras and Donald S. Siegel shine a light on how a proposed 4% tax on the gross receipts of gambling served as a wake-up call in 1994. The authors outline steps from the founding of the AGA, to lobbying efforts and forming the NCRG, which funds rigorous peer-revied research on disordered gambling and educates the public about responsible gaming. Key, has been NCRG’s role in enhancing public and industry understanding of problem gambling, identifying effective methods for preventing and treating disorders and building some of those findings into the AGA’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming.

In my opinion, if CSR can work for the gambling industry, it can work for just about any industry in any country. Millin brings together academics and business experts to share a wide range of accounts from across the globe. Readers will find insights and guidance on how  countries and companies have tried to balance the perceived needs of often disparate groups. With the number of signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment now approaching 1,000, CSR is only growing in importance as an essential business practice.

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