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Good business has a bad crunch

This era's greatest episode of financial irresponsibility almost brought capitalism to its knees. But the corporate responsibility movement wasn't paying attention

By Daniel Litvin   November 2008

When historians come to write their account of the great financial crisis of 2008, what mention will be given to “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR)? Over the last decade, the world’s largest companies and governments have trumpeted CSR—action by companies to improve their impact on society—as a way to moderate capitalism’s excesses. CSR should now be centre stage. But it is not.

CSR—together with the related and equally fashionable concept of “socially-responsible investment” (SRI)—is promoted as a way to make business more ethical. Greater sensitivity to social and ethical concerns, the argument goes, should help companies reduce the risk of a…

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