"the Social Responsibility of the Corporation Is to Provide Social Inclusiveness" Regulation Theory and Corporate Governance at Stake

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.1.04 (Tower One)
Jean-Pierre Chanteau, university Grenoble-Alpes, Grenoble, France
Against Friedman's assertion in 1970 ("The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits"), we can assert that "the social responsibility of a corporation is to provide social inclusiveness" [Sainsaulieu: 1992]. But, as it appears, this doesn't mean this responsibility is actually endorsed. Indeed the claim for a corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been twofold: i) criticizing the lack of managers' responsibility ; ii) the managers' assertion of their ability to carry out extra-financial issues as market failures (the so-called social or environmental performances) without law or any other kind of governmental constraint. Therefore, as it is now well documented, CSR debates address the theory and practive of the corporate governance and of "who" has the authority to rule the corporation. But the managerial answer, whatever its social and environmental outcomes, has somewhat managed to close this debate.

Hence this paper will show why there's still a need for better inclusive corporations –fighting inequalities by way of social recognition and rights, and not only by way of providing retributions, according to Frazer [2000] among others. In order to address the issue of corporate governance and social inclusiveness, the paper will provide methodological tools through the lenses of a constructivist theory of regulation. Firstly we define why and how the heuristic framework of the theory of regulation must be enriched by political and historical studies to explain the effects of heterogeneity, contingence and power on the different types of corporate governance [Blair:2013]. Then we apply this method to the social construction of modern firms and explain i) why today the managerial-type CSR doesn't fit per se the required institutional conditions (identity, compliance and profitability) for a ‘sustainable inclusive governance’ [Chanteau: 2011] ; ii) how the CSR debates, including political-type CSR, help to ground the thesis of the corporation as a field of collective actions involving different types of goods and rules (public, commons, individuals). The paper is backed up by field research on different types of firms (including not-for-profit organization, social entrepreneurship, state-owned firms, shareholders' governance…) in France.