Evolution of corporate social responsibility

The historical evolution of the CSR can be classified into different periods (Johnson, 2010). There is the earlier period in the CSR evolution followed by the development of unique trends in the 1970s. The 1970s trends are followed by the shifts that existed during the 1990s (Matten and Moon, 2005). The below figure shows the historical timeline and different stages in the history of CSR as a paradigm in management and business theory:

Figure 1: History of Corporate Social Responsibility, Source: Johnson (2010), “A Critical Examination of Firestone's Operations in Liberia: A Case Study Approach”, AuthorHouse, USA.
Figure 1: History of Corporate Social Responsibility, Source: Johnson (2010), “A Critical Examination of Firestone’s Operations in Liberia: A Case Study Approach”, AuthorHouse, USA.

The Early Classical Period

CSR was looked as a product of the industrialization process at that time. With the development of big companies in 1870s the tasks of these companies increasingly affected other society domains. From 1900 through 1920, extra legislation based on business social responsibilities was passed under the banner of the collection of advocated social reforms in the upcoming era.

The Immediate Post war Period

The debate over the social responsibility of business had achieved impetus succeeding World War II. By this time corporate philanthropy had already become part of normal social fabric and business life. Two principles formed the foundations for contemporary views on CSR. These were the principle of stewardship and charity.

Trends during the 1970s

During 1970s, the texture of the war based on CSR altered to some degree. The focus in the war shifted from corporate responsibility to the corporate responsiveness concept. This new focus on responsiveness altered the emphasis from what organizations could do to survive to what organizations could do to better the world through sustainability.

Shifts during the 1990s

In the 1990s, the concept of CSR emerged as the outcome of new forms of stakeholder engagement and social regulation, increased demands of stakeholder and governmental regulation for reporting and CSR. Critics and Scholars improved their analysis to include arguments based on the sustainability, business ethics, corporate social performance, green marketing, stakeholder theory and citizenship theory


  • Johnson T (2010), “A Critical Examination of Firestone’s Operations in Liberia: A Case Study Approach”, Authorhouse, USA, pp 28-33.
  • Matten, D., & Moon, J. (2005). A Conceptual Framework for Understanding CSR. In A. Habisch, J.Jonker, M.Wegner & R. Schmidtpeter (Eds.), Corporate Social Responsibility. Across Europe, Heielberg: Springer Berlin.

Rajalakshmi Rahul

Rajalakshmi Rahul is the CEO of Kalki Training Academy.She has four years of industrial experience as a telecommunication software developer. She is presently running her own educational consultancy, catering the needs of students belonging to both engineering and management discipline. She is a part of research and analysis team of Project Guru. She is a computer engineer with masters in technology management. She has graduated from Anna University and is a gold medalist.

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