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UNRISD Deputy Director to present a paper on development and corporate social responsibility at York University in Toronto, Canada

9 Sep 2008



UNRISD Deputy Director, Peter Utting, will present a paper titled, “Achieving Development through Corporate Social Responsibility? The Problem of Policy Incoherence” at York University in Toronto, Canada on 18 September 2008.

In his presentation, Peter will address the contemporary corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. Peter raises important questions about CSR, which many see as a new approach to development and governance that balances social, environmental and economic objectives while contributing to filling institutional gaps that have arisen with globalization.

Peter examines claims about CSR as a response to the problem of policy (in)coherence that has plagued mainstream approaches to development in recent decades. He raises the question of whether CSR itself is characterized by the same problem of policy incoherence, and what the implications of this are for the kind of development model a CSR approach supports. In this discussion, he highlights the gaps between policy objectives, implementation and outcomes, as well as the limited effectiveness inherent in CSR agendas that do not deal with “macro” issues in economic, social and environmental contexts where it is applied. Finally, he considers the prospects for confronting policy incoherence through two different “movements” for change: one to promote CSR via private standard-setting and voluntary initiatives, and another to control corporate power by reinvigorating the regulatory role of the state and institutions capable of channelling grievances and seeking redress.