Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


The Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility

October 2008

(eds) A Crane, A McWilliams,
D Matten, J Moon, D Siegel.
Hardback. 590 pages. Oxford University Press. £80/$150.

Practitioners beware: the foundations of this book are deep in academic territory, and offer little in the way either of light relief or practical advice.

Quite how this is a ‘handbook’ is not clear; with 590 pages of detailed academic musings on theory and criticism, it hardly fits the Collins Dictionary definition of the genre as a ‘short manual or guidebook’. Nor is it a resource that can be pulled off the shelf to help with everyday dilemmas.

To be fair, however, the editors are clear in their purpose: ‘to provide some kind of coherent overview or orientation for scholars working in the field’. This they do by publishing 28 papers from academics who cover topics such as stakeholder theory and shareholder activism, summarizing the debate on each and reviewing the key literature.

If you want ‘further thoughts on the Friedmanite critique of CSR’ or an assessment of ‘strategic contestation in global issue arenas’ then look no further.

There is a fashion for this kind of book at present, and it is hard not to feel that the approach amounts to little more than the cobbling together of various unrelated think-pieces. However, you could not lay that accusation at this book’s door, because there is a welcome order and cohesion to the contents.

That said, this is more for the business school library than the busy executive’s desk.

Peter Mason

Peter Mason | Global | CSR

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