4. Corporate Responsibility and the Idea of the Firm

Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.2.05 (Clement House)
Laurence Cranmer, Birkbeck, University of London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
The idea of corporate responsibility in its various forms has become a strategic issue for business.  Many companies, and most global companies, make public claims about their corporate responsibilities; these claims typically include financial outcomes and success, but also suggest wider responsibilities. Public claims range from informal contributions to public debate, to responses to issues of public concern, to formal reporting on the basis of objectives and targets. This raises an interesting conceptual question: to what extent, if at all, do these claims have implications for the idea of the firm. This is the question that the paper attempts to address. This paper begins by setting out one version of the idea of the firm and its core or traditional responsibilities (there are of course various versions). It then suggest a series of possible further responsibilities. Each further responsibility is incorporated into the initial version in order to understand the potential implications for the idea of the firm. The paper suggests the kinds of issues raised by these various claims about corporate responsibility. This paper can form a starting point for continuing debate and further research about the desirability or otherwise of the various responsibilities, and the current or future implications for company strategy and operations.