What is CSR?

Despite the fact that the concept of social responsibility gained importance in 2000s around the world, especially in Europe and America, it still cannot acquire currency, as it should be, in Turkey. 

CSR revealed itself in the policies implemented by large-scale enterprises in order to eliminate the problems emerging following the Great Depression in 1930s. Social responsibility was unable to go beyond being a definition used only by multidimensional and multinational companies for a long term. When the calendar hits 1950s, Bowen brought a different perspective and listed the benefits required to be provided to the society by the business world as follows:

  • “High living standards,
  • Wide-scale economic development and security,
  • Order, justice, freedom,
  • Finally, self-development of individuals”. (Bowen, 1953)

Before proceeding to the historical development of the concept of CSR, defined in various manners in the last 80 years, the current definitions are presented in Table 1. As defined by the European Commission, CSR is “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis”.

As seen in the Carroll’s pyramid; the social responsibility awareness, which was adopted due to economic interests and statutory obligations in 1960s and 1970s, became a duty assumed by the enterprises towards the society. In 1980s, CSR was turned into a corporate business organization under which stakeholders were also involved in the process, for the enterprises. Following the changes in the economic and political structure of the world, the prominent themes which continued to grow and take center stage before 2000s include corporate social performance, corporate citizenship, stakeholder theory, business ethics, sustainability and corporate citizenship. (Sen, 2011)

Enterprises may build up a reputation and stand out among their competitors through CSR practices arising due to economic conditions. In the second place, it can be said that CSR is achieved in private sector as a requirement stipulated by the statutory regulations established by the government. Contrary to these two levels; in the third level, CSR activities are carried out as a consequence of an ethical sense felt by any authorized person or institution towards society. At the top level involving all other factors also, CSR practices which arise as result of corporate policy of any enterprise or personal initiative of any executive are discussed.

You can learn more about the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility from the reports on the Publications page.