Corporate Social Responsibility
Full course description
This course will offer a comprehensive analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as the main normative concept expressing the relation between business and society in a globalisation context. The following subjects will be studied and discussed:
- The conceptual and historical foundations of CSR, its substance and analytical focus
- The external and internal dimensions of CSR and its relation to corporate governance
- The relation between CSR and the law with a particular focus on
- public international and human rights law (UN)
- international economic law (OECD)
- company and civil law (tort and contract law) including its private international law dimension
- The relevance of CSR in private regulation with a particular focus on corporate and industry self-regulation
- supply-chain contracting
- multi-stakeholder initiatives
A critical evaluation on CSR as a normative concept and its conceptual foundations and the alternatives in which the relation between business and society is expressed
The course is compulsory for all students enrolled in the Master Globalization and Law, as it touches upon a subject that is at the intersection between the legal regulation of corporate and commercial activity, international human rights law and international economic law. The course thus asks students of each of the tracks to think about international business activity and their regulation in the interest of society in a different way than the their respective focus of study suggests. For students enrolled in the corporate and commercial law track the course aims to contextualize the social dimension of business activity; for students focusing primarily on human rights law the aim is to better understand the prospects and limits of integrating companies as actors into international (human rights) law; for students of international economic law this course should lead to identifying the societal implications of global trade activities and their related regulation.
Students will obtain a general understanding of the concept of CSR, its role for globally operating companies and its relation to the law. By the end of the course, you should be able to:
- describe the concept of CSR, its evolution against the background of the globalization of business activity and to critically assess the concept on its merits
- explain and analyze the relation of CSR to the main fields of law that are affected by it (i.e. public international law, international economic law and private law) and critically evaluate the possibilities and limits of the law to foster CSR.
- understand and critically assess the role of private regulation for CSR.
The course is taught in lectures and tutorials. In the lecture, you will be given the general background of a particular topic while in the tutorials you will work with case studies to obtain a deeper understanding of the topic.
A basic understanding of international law, human rights law, and private law (corporate law, tort law, contract law and private international law) are required.
The literature will mainly be based on a compilation of articles. The following books can be consulted on the topic but do not constitute the required reading for this course.
- Doreen McBarnet, Aurelia Voiculescu and Tom Campbell (eds), The New Corporate Accountability: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law, Cambridge University Press 2007.
- Andrew Crane, Dirk Matten, Abagail McWilliams, Jeremy Moon & Donald Siegel (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility, Oxford University Press 2008.
- Olaf Dilling, Martin Herberg & Gert Winter (eds), Responsible Business: Self-Governance and Law in Transnational Economic Transactions, Hart Publishing 2008.
- Michael Kerr, Richard Janda and Chip Pitts, Corporate Social Responsibility: A Legal Analysis, Lexis Nexis 2009.
- Peter Muchlinski, Multinationals and the Law, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press 2007.
- John Ruggie, Just Business, Multinational Corporations and Human Rights, W.W. Norton & Company 2013.
- Andreas Rühmkorf, Corporate Social Responsibility, Private Law and Global Supply Chains, Edward Elgar 2015.