The idea that corporations should be socially responsible has been around for decades. Chester Barnard, the renowned management scholar and executive at AT&T, addressed it in his landmark book, The Functions of the Executive in 1938.1 At about the same time, J. M. Clark published his work on “The Social Control of Business”2 followed by Theodore Kreps’ “Measurement of the Social Performance of Business.3 In 1946, Fortune magazine polled business executives asking them about their social responsibilities.4 These early works did little to place the issue of corporate social responsibility on the active agenda of American business.

The modern era of corporate social responsibility began in the 1950s. In the ensuing decades, increasing ...

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