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Professor Alexandra Hughes
Dr Felicity Wray
Hughes A, Wray F
Kitchin, R; Thrift, N
Encyclopedia of Human Geography
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Corporations are viewed increasingly as having sets of obligations extending beyond core capitalist objectives associated with the financial bottom line. It is now a mainstream view that business is responsible for aspects of society and the environment that are affected by its activities. Corporations are therefore now seen as having moral agency with respect to groups and environments influenced by their business operations. While there are multiple definitions of corporate responsibility, the groups and spaces most prominently regarded as being responsibilities of corporations are customers, employees, communities and natural environments, as well as shareholders. Current developments in voluntary forms of corporate responsibility have been fuelled by globalization and deregulation since the 1980s, anticorporate activism, and the growing importance to the investment community of ethical performance on the part of public companies. Corporate responsibility, through the globalization of business, is having a growing impact on development, influenced by national- and international-level development agencies. Critiques of the corporate responsibility movement, including those from a geographical angle, are many and varied, concerning the voluntaristic basis for corporate participation, its Western-centrism, and its failure to tackle some of the core elements of capitalism such as market power and the right of a company to disinvest.
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