The Corporate Placebo Effect

Corporate social responsibility "may work under certain conditions," writes Deborah Doane, but CSR efforts "are highly vulnerable to market failures, including such things as imperfect information, externalities, and free riders. Most importantly, there is often a wide chasm between what's good for a company and what's good for society as a whole." Although CSR efforts "offer good PR," sometimes they're just that. "Corporations use the United Nations to their public relations advantage, such as posing their CEOs for photographs with Secretary-General Kofi Annan," while flaunting the UN's CSR agreement, the Global Compact. After describing what she calls "the four key myths of CSR," Doane concludes that CSR "is a placebo, leaving us with immense and mounting challenges in globalization for the foreseeable future."