Doesn’t this demonstrate that ‘corporate social responsibility’ is an oxymoron, and that there is no such thing as ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’ capitalism?

Thank you for engaging!

I don’t think so. List and Mohmeni’s research doesn’t really assume capitalism or any other form of economic system. What it does challenge any notion that CSR, whether as a specific initiative or as a fundamental mission of the organization in question, implies the moral rectitude of its employees. It therefore implies caution with respect to the potential side effects of ethical motives on the part of the employer.

With respect to your question about “‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’ capitalism”, I think we would need to agree on what these three terms really mean before debating whether it can or cannot exist. One thing that might be problematic to start with would be considering ‘ethical’ and ‘responsible’ as binary characteristics. If we can agree that they are not binary, then we can certainly investigate to what extent, say, Tesco, Jaguar Land Rover, the Co-Op, JP Morgan, the NHS, Virgin Atlantic, Google, Jobcentre Plus or any other organization is ethical and responsible, and whether we can see a clear distinction between those that are in private hands and have a profit motive, and those that are in public hands and do not have a profit motive.

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Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius

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