Corporate Social Responsibility
Full course description
This course will offer a comprehensive analysis of the normative and operational aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as the main normative concept expressing the multifaceted relation between business and society in a globalisation context. The following subjects will be studied and discussed:
- the conceptual foundations of CSR, CSR as normative and as operational concept and the voluntary vs mandatory debate; the European Union CSR Strategy 2011-2014;
- the external and internal dimensions of CSR and its relation to corporate governance; the ethics/values approach and the risk management approach as complementary strategies;
- The substantive scope of CSR: the so-called ‘Triple P’ (People, Planet and Profit) approach;
- Regulation models of CSR, internationally and nationally: public international law, treaties, International Governmental Organisations’ resolutions and instruments, domestic hard law, soft law, self-regulation (including company codes) and uncodified norms, their interdependence, interaction and enforcement.
- Sectoral Triple P regulation and General CSR regulation: accountability and transparency, corporate law and shareholder vs stakeholder theories and models, tort law and criminal law. Both sectoral and general approaches in national and international context: eg Organization of Economic Cooperation and development (OECD) guidelines for multinational enterprises and United Nations (the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) and European Union initiatives.
- The external focus of CSR: dialogue with and enforcement by external stakeholders.
- The CSR management toolbox for the embedding of CSR norms in the company’s organisation and operations through a legal lens: strategy, policy, due diligence, training, compliance, enforcement and conflict management.
Students will obtain a general understanding of the concept of CSR and its role and position in international business and law and regulation. They will become familiar with the relation of CSR, with the main relevant legal fields and management techniques to embed CSR in the company’s organisation both from a legal and operational perspective. They will also obtain an understanding of the role, views and action possibilities of civil society to discipline corporations and to hold them accountable. Through this course students will acquire up-to-date knowledge and an understanding of the links between democracy, human rights, sustainable development and the consequences of globalization of business.
By making use of various case studies and a paper assignment, students will learn how to analyse the potential consequences of globalisation for the operation of companies and will learn how these consequences can be addressed by means of private and/or public regulation. They will learn how to compare the various solutions used in practice, apply these to specific cases and assess them on their merits.
A basic understanding of international law, human rights law and corporate law are required.
The literature will mainly be based on a compilation of articles. The following handbooks can be consulted on the topic but do not constitute the required reading for this course.
- McBarnet, Voiculescu and Campbell, The New Corporate Accountability, Cambridge University Press (2009) (recommended)
- Kerr, Landa and Pitts (ed), Corporate Social Responsibility, A legal Analysis, Lexis Nexis, Toronto (2009) (recommended)
- Bryan Horrigan, Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century- Debates, Models and Practices Across Government, Law and Business Edward Elgar (2010); (recommended)
- John G. Ruggie, Just Business, Multinational Corporations and Human Rights, W.W. Norton & Company, New York (2013) (recommended)
- P.T. Muchlinski, Multinationals and the Law (Oxford University Press, 2007) and (Lexis Nexis Canada, 2009) (recommended).