Corporate Social Responsibility: A Promising Social Innovation or a Neoliberal Strategy in Disguise
In Romanian Journal of European Affair. Vol 14, N 2
Since the Lisbon Summit the European Union has become resolute in itsintention to promote the uptake of corporate social responsibility among Europeancompanies. The recent financial crisis has provided further impetus for evangelising CSR,which is identified by the EU public authorities as one exit strategy from the crisis anda promising means of fulfilling the Treaty objectives of inclusive and sustainable social market economy. This paper finds the above assertion problematic and uses a Polanyian framework to evaluate its validity. The paper represents a conceptual intervention inthe policy justification provided by the European Commission. Contrary to the overly optimistic voices that see decommodifying tendencies within CSR, this paper claims thatCSR does not have a potential to re-embed the economy as argued by the Commission. Despite its protective invocation, CSR is predicated on deepened commodification. Itdepends on the staging of a special type of exchange relation, whereby reputation isquantified and sold as a commodity by being denominated in a common unit. As such the CSR form promoted by the Commission is a microeconomic counterpart to the regimeof rule-based macroeconomic depoliticisation.
This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.