Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business
 

review

The A to Z of corporate social responsibility

February 2008

W Visser, D Matten, M Pohl & N Tolhurst. Hardback.
539 pages. Wiley. £55/$110

It’s a sign of the coming of age of corporate social responsibility that it now merits its own A to Z. This clearly-written encyclopaedia recognizes that CSR has become such an established part of business life that it needs a common language.

Containing around 350 definitions of terms, organizations and notable landmarks, it’s been drawn up with help from 100 specialists, including Jonathan Porritt, John Elkington, Mary Robinson and other well-known figures.

Many of the entries are signed by the individuals who wrote them – a novel and disarmingly transparent idea that reflects the light touch adopted by the editors.

It also takes the interesting route of allowing many entries about organizations to be written by the heads of those bodies. While this at least ensures they come from contributors with in-depth knowledge, it does raise the question of potential bias. CSR Asia, for instance, may well be ‘the leading provider of information about corporate social responsibility in the Asia Pacific region’, but is it appropriate that this judgement is delivered by CSR Asia founder and director Richard Welford?

This tricky area aside, the book delivers admirably in most areas with sensible, jargon-free definitions that are rarely longer than half a page except when it comes to core terms such as CSR itself, which often run to ten pages or more. This is certainly a handy reference book to have on the shelf behind your desk, whether you’re working in the corporate sector or in teaching and research.

Peter Mason
 



Peter Mason | Global | CSR

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