In this review, the primary subject is the ‘business case’ for corporate social responsibility
(CSR). The business case refers to the underlying arguments or rationales supporting
or documenting why the business community should accept and advance the
CSR ‘cause’. The business case is concerned with the primary question: What do the
business community and organizations get out of CSR? That is, how do they benefit
tangibly from engaging in CSR policies, activities and practices? The business case
refers to the bottom-line financial and other reasons for businesses pursuing CSR
strategies and policies. In developing this business case, the paper first provides some
historical background and perspective. In addition, it provides a brief discussion of the
evolving understandings of CSR and some of the long-established, traditional arguments
that have been made both for and against the idea of business assuming any
responsibility to society beyond profit-seeking and maximizing its own financial wellbeing.
Finally, the paper addresses the business case in more detail. The goal is to
describe and summarize what the business case means and to review some of the
concepts, research and practice that have come to characterize this developing idea.