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CSR Models in the Economic Context

One of the most popular and at the same time the most commonly used models indicating the economic aspect of socially responsible activities is the Carroll (1999) model, called after profit obligation.

It implies that CSR activities occur on four planes (or levels): philanthropic (desired by society), ethical (socially expected), legal, and economic (required by society).

According to the assumptions of the above model, the economic aspect is a key aspect of the company’s operations. First of all, the organization should be profitable, or at least not generate financial losses. At the second level of this model there is legal responsibility, that is, the organization must always comply with the law in force in a given country, mainly economic. Moreover, it is the organization’s responsibility to comply with this law when operating in an ever- changing market and in strong competition (Carroll, 1999).

At the third level, ethical responsibility, the issue of entity ethics, that is, managers in enterprises and at the same time persons responsible for the decisions and actions of the organization, is clearly emphasized. The key aspects at this level are the ethical climate around the company, as well as formal documents present in the organization, for example, ethical codes or CSR strategies. The last level is philanthropy, which takes into account the various activities of the entire entity and individual employees to improve living conditions in a broad sense or to solve existing social problems. It is worth noting that the CSR hierarchy developed by Carroll (1999) gives an intuitive sense to many ways of describing a set of managerial responsibilities in the field of broadly understood CSR.

On the other hand, Werther and Chandler (2006) in their model approach, pay attention primarily to the economic element, that is, the implementation of CSR principles allows to gain a competitive advantage and is an important distinguishing feature of the organization in the event of avoiding possible penalties for noncompliance with ethical principles in its functioning. It is worth emphasizing that in their assumptions they also take into account moral issues (whether the company can grow independently without the presence of society) and rational (the organization’s activities must be implemented in accordance with the law).

An interesting model approach is presented by Matten (2006), who distinguishes three perspectives in the context of responsible business. The most important of them is the economic perspective; it includes the company’s activities emphasizing the responsibility of the board for creating products and services that will ensure high sales in the long run, and thus achievement of profit. In addition to the above perspective, the author also points to social issues (expectations and needs of stakeholders) and environmental protection, through the skillful use of natural resources due to understanding the problem of their limitedness.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the three-domain CSR model that was developed by Schwartz and Carroll (2003). In the already mentioned fields, the authors included economic, legal, and ethical. Within the economic field (recognized as key in this model), activities are included to obtain a positive economic impact in a given business entity, for example, by increasing sales or acquiring new customers. The need to take actions that affect the company’s profit or improve its image in the market is clearly emphasized.

In turn, the legal field refers to the responsibility of the organization in the aspect of legal requirements oriented and expected by a given community, mainly local. The last field, ethical, aims to promote behaviors expected by generally applicable standards, as well as the immediate environment of the company (Schwartz and Carroll, 2003).


Summing up the above considerations, it can be stated that all presented models of responsible business are certainly of great importance in making the final decision by enterprises to implement the concept of CSR in practice. To a large extent, it depends on what in a particular economic entity will be considered a key activity - whether economic, social, or ecological aspect.

It is worth emphasizing that clear and transparent ethical principles, implementation as part of CSR modeling approaches, are very important primarily in relations with employees. It is in this aspect that they show a clear framework of conduct, focusing on the activities accepted by the organization and those considered unethical. Thanks to this approach, the employee can be sure that he or she makes the right decisions based on the assumptions of the responsible business model, which has been accepted and implemented in practice by the business entity.

In addition to the above, it should also be stated that social responsibility in the model context must be taken into account in the activities inside and outside each enterprise. It must be treated as the foundation of business, not as additional ethical activities undertaken in selected areas and activities of the organization. Comprehensive activities undertaken by business entities and having a coherent value system are the basic elements of stable and proper functioning in the market. Such actions will definitely avoid many risks and costs resulting from unethical behavior or incorrect business decisions.

Review of the most important CSR models showed their high heterogeneity. In some, the focus is clear on social aspects, in others, economic elements are key. This is due to the fact that in the former, the role of stakeholders (including the community) in the development of the enterprise and thus their influence on the functioning of the organization in the market is clearly emphasized. On the other hand, economic issues in CSR models relate mainly to increasing efficiency, which translates into economic added value for all key stakeholders. This approach will definitely be possible to be achieved by conscious managers who will be able to orient the organization’s activities toward creating high economic value, while remembering about the basic ethical principles in force in a given industry.

At the end of the discussion, it can be stated that CSR should not be treated only as costs that enterprises cannot afford, but above all social and economic benefits for their owners and stakeholders, as well as a positive impact on the environment. Entrepreneurs very often do not have such awareness, which is why it seems reasonable to promote all model activities in this field and emphasize the growing importance of the aspect of social responsibility in business practice, both on the domestic and foreign market.

"Die limitations of research in the field of CSR models include the lack of a unified tool that would allow comparison of analysis results. There is a very wide variety of measurement methods, research techniques, and indicators used to analyze and evaluate socially responsible business models. This study is a contribution to determining the scale of validity of the proposed CSR models in the context of their implementation in economic entities, emphasizing the economic and social element. Development of a model approach should be indicated as the directions of future research in this field, which would give the opportunity to implement this concept not only in economic but also in social, ecological, and ethical aspects.

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