Paper Example on Google's Global Impact: A Critical Evaluation of Corporate Social Responsibility Practices

Published: 2023-11-16
Paper Example on Google's Global Impact: A Critical Evaluation of Corporate Social Responsibility Practices
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Economics Business Google Social responsibility
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1588 words
14 min read


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has increasingly been adopted as a standard business practice as the establishment of a CSR strategy is a critical component of any business competitiveness (Financier Worldwide 2015). Although traditionally considered private and voluntary, CSR is increasingly becoming legalized, integrates non-voluntary components, and is structured by governmental policies (Peels, Schneider, Echeverria, and Aissi 2016). CSR's main aim is to attain a positive impact on a community while maximizing shared value for the business, shareholders, employees, and stakeholders (Financier Worldwide 2015). According to Financier Worldwide (2015), organisations with an effective and genuine CSR significantly outperformed organisations without CSR, and there was a 19 times higher average return on assets. Additionally, CSR-oriented organisations have a higher employee engagement level and enhanced customer service standards (Financier Worldwide 2015). However, despite the optimism and positivity, CSR offers to corporates, organisations rarely social responsibility in good hearts and a significant number adopt CSR as a marketing strategy (Financier Worldwide 2015). Different opinions exist regarding the benefits and effects of CSR for businesses. On the one hand, CSR proponents argue that it fills the regulatory vacuum in specific policy areas and may enhance compliance and monitoring of various standards like labour standards (Peels, Schneider, Echeverria and Aissi 2016). Further, CSR may help private corporations avoid legal and reputational risks in foreign countries with limited legal enforcement capacities and disseminate shared values, which may result in increased legislative developments and coherence in the long term (Peels, Schneider, Echeverria and Aissi 2016). CSR opponents argue that there is a lack of legitimacy in some CSR initiatives as they may lack enforcement mechanisms and surveillance by some institutions (Peels, Schneider, Echeverria, and Aissi 2016). In light of the mixed arguments, it is important to understand how the CSR work of international companies can be critically evaluated. The following paper is a critical evaluation of the corporate social responsibility of Google to establish how the CSR of an international company can be critically evaluated.

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CSR Definition and Importance

CSR refers to organisations operating in a sustainable and ethical manner while addressing social and environmental impacts (Collier 2018). There is a significant increase in CSR awareness, and consumers are actively seeking products from firms operating ethically. Godos-Díez, Cabeza-García, and Fernández-González (2018) described CSR as a voluntary competitive strategy structured on economic, social, and environmental enhancement where the organisation operates. According to Eteokleous, Leonidou, and Katsikeas (2016), CSR is an organisational obligation to pursue policies, make decisions, and follow actions that are desirable and align with the value and objectives of a society. Crowther (2008) defined CSR as a concept through which organisations integrate environmental and social concerns into their interaction with stakeholders and business operations voluntarily. However, Godos-Díez, Cabeza-García, and Fernández-González (2018) asserted that there is no generally accepted definition of CSR. This is also reflected in Crowther's (2008) work, where they argued that there is no agreed-upon CSR definition and that this raises a debate on what is considered as CSR.

CSR practices are profitable and beneficial to communities, and businesses and consumers are increasingly engaging with companies that practice CSR. A CSR practice framework is provided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Richardson-Cooke 2019). CSR is important as it improves the public image, increases brand recognition and awareness, is cost-saving, offers a competitive advantage, enhances customer engagement and employee engagement, and offers more benefits to employees (Collier 2018). According to Richardson-Cooke (2019), CSR is a company's self-regulation to embrace responsibility for its actions and produce a positive impact through activities on employees, customers, the environment, and the communities. CSR is essential as it may prompt potential and current employees to commit themselves to the firm while promoting its values (Richardson-Cooke 2019). Modern CSR key aspects include environmental protection, sustainability, and minimizing environmental impacts by corporations (Richardson-Cooke 2019).

Gonzalez-Perez (2013) argued that firms adopt CSR initiatives as consumers and shareholders actively reward firms that are socially responsible. As such, corporations utilise CSR initiatives to respond to social demands. CSR impacts a firm’s financial performance in various ways. Socially responsible actions increase a firm's costs implying an economic disadvantage for firms engaging in CSR (Gonzalez-Perez, 2013). However, some authors argued that CSR costs are an investment when viewed from the perspective of employee engagement, productivity, and morale, consumer goodwill, purchasing corporate responsibility, relationships with local society, government, and financial institutions (Gonzalez-Perez 2013).

Godos-Díez, Cabeza-García, and Fernández-González (2018) reported that CSR creates value for an organisation due to the growth of crucial strategic intangible resources and facilitates efficient utilisation of opportunities to attain enhanced economic outcomes. CSR affects and reinforce desirable behaviour and contribute to long-term organisational success. Beyond customer loyalty, improved workplace morale, and enhanced perception for a firm, Godos-Díez, Cabeza-García, and Fernández-González (2018) cited risk mitigation and encouraged innovation as the other positive impacts of CSR. When codes of behaviour and ethics are implemented, unethical behaviours are minimized and thus improve stakeholder relationships. CSR practices aid in developing innovative services and products. As such, CSR helps companies to remain economically viable and competitive in the long run. Multinational companies are also reported to enhance their CSR for higher visibility, risk mitigation, and for the availability of funds (Godos-Díez, Cabeza-García and Fernández-González 2018).

Organisations cannot operate in isolation and a part of a community. Companies, therefore, should act ethically and responsibly in protecting and improving social welfare as well as their interests (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Organisational long-term success, therefore, depends on fulfilling their responsibility towards the society in which they operate, and the society has a pivotal role in their success (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). International businesses are obliged to uplift the community economically and socially so that they can increase their productivity. .

CSR Pyramid Framework and the Domain Model

Several theoretical perspectives classifying CSR and interrelated concepts exist. However, Archie Carroll (Purohit and Phadnis 2016) presented one of the earliest CSR pyramid frameworks, which is broadly accepted and referred to as conceptualisation of CSR. Carroll viewed CSR as a construct defined by four categories – legal, ethical, economic, and philanthropic responsibilities (Chan 2014). Carroll argued that CSR extends the scope of law addresses obligations a company has to society and symbolises the four listed business performance categories. Carroll further explained that businesses should be evaluated in terms of their monetary success and economic criteria (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). these categories by Carroll are shown in a pyramid. Hemphill (2004) as cited by Purohit and Phadnis (2016) summarised the CSR components as striving to obey the law (legal), maximise profit (economic), operate ethically (ethics), and striving to be an excellent corporate citizen in terms of stakeholder's relationship (philanthropic). Carroll presented a CSR model called Pyramid.

Economic Responsibility

Under this category, Carroll asserted that businesses are motivated by profit maximisation and an increase in shareholder value (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Shareholders expected a return on their investments, employees demanded fairly paid jobs, and customers demanded quality services and products at fair prices. As such, the first responsibility of a business is to operate effectively as an economic unit (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Economic responsibility, according to Carroll fulfills, societal wants and needs through production and businesses make profits as rewards or incentives for their effectiveness and efficiency (Omran and Ramdhony 2015). Economic responsibilities are evident in firms through marketing strategies, investments, financial strategies in the long term, and business operations (Brin and Nehme 2019).

Legal Responsibility

Legal responsibility coexists with economic responsibility and is codified ethics embodying basic notions and fair guidelines on actions as structured by lawmakers (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Businesses are faced with legal responsibility and operate under specified rules by governments at various levels. Legal responsibilities are therefore placed on a company by the law and are security regulations to legislation such as labour, environmental and criminal law (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Businesses are expected by society to fulfil their set economic missions within the legal framework of society (Omran and Ramdhony 2015).

Ethical Responsibility

Businesses are obliged to operate in a just, fair, and right manner even when not directed or mandated to by a legal framework. Carroll highlighted that this responsibility comprises the generally accepted conduct by society beyond the economic and legal expectations (Purohit and Phadnis 2016). Businesses are expected to act ethically and protect stakeholder’s moral rights (Omran and Ramdhony 2015). Organisations are obliged to be good citizens in a community (Brin and Nehme 2019).

Philanthropic Responsibility

This is the fourth level of the Carroll pyramid and emphasises charitable responsibilities by businesses. This category deals with vast issues like donations, sponsoring events in the society, health and education facilities. Although close to ethical responsibilities, it is not considered unethical when firms fail to contribute to humanitarian initiatives (Omran and Ramdhony 2015). As a voluntary activity, businesses participate in social activities not required, outlined, or mandated by law (Brin and Nehme 2019).

Although the Pyramid is widely used, it is limited since it implies a hierarchy of the different domains, and therefore the domain at the top may be perceived as superior to the one at the bottom (Omran and Ramdhony 2015). Again, there is an overlapping nature of the domains, which is not captured by the pyramid framework (Omran and Ramdhony 2015).

Domain Definition

Three domains distinguish the domains of political impact in CSR. Domain A entails a firm's deliberate attempt to influence the government to gain certain competitive advantages (Scherer 2018). Domain B entails firm's activities that produce unintended effects on institutional development (Scherer 2018). Domain C consists of firms reactive strategies in responding to the external political environment (Scherer 2018).

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