What is it about?

Corporate social and environmental responsibility has become a major contemporary focus of business, government and community attention globally. With this increased attention and activity have come debates ranging across corporate authenticity, legislative necessity, and the scope of appropriate strategies. Through an historical analysis of four leading British industrialists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, this paper addresses the question of how corporate social accountability can be shaped and implemented by industrial leaders. It finds that while they may be motivated by a mix of business case agendas and their personal philosophical and religious beliefs, their accountability orientation reflects the latter. Social accountability in these cases, emerges as accountability rendered through action, reflecting organisational leaders’ moral responsibility and their connecting their personal beliefs with action for the common good. In the light of parallels between historical and contemporary global industrial environments, the study identifies resonances between historical and contemporary corporate leader social responsibility values, initiatives and accountabilities through action. This opens up the possibility of a more nuanced understanding of motivations for and manifestations of corporate social responsibility and accountability.

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This page is a summary of: Corporate social accountability through action: Contemporary insights from British industrial pioneers, Accounting Organizations and Society, November 2014, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2014.10.001.
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