The Business of Business: Comparing Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in China and the United States

TitleThe Business of Business: Comparing Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in China and the United States
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsConrad, Jessica M.
JournalGeorgia Journal of International and Comparative Law
Date Published2013
KeywordsChina, corporate greed, corporate social responsibility, public opinion

[Excerpt] Peanut-themed parks, barista training, and cash donations supporting environmental causes might seem unrelated to the casual observer. In fact, these endeavors represent a global effort by corporations to increase their charitable giving and undertake socially responsible behavior that benefits their employees, consumers, and communities. At a time when popular movements rage “against greed, corporate influence, gross social inequality and other nasty byproducts of wayward capitalism,” corporate social responsibility initiatives are particularly relevant because they represent the nexus between corporate action, government regulation, and the welfare of individual citizens. Popular distaste for corporations is not a new phenomenon. Contemporary scholars have addressed perceived problems with corporate misbehavior since the 1970s. As corporations continue to grow ever larger and acquire more global influence, the actions they take have the potential to affect individuals, environments, and states around the globe. American and Chinese companies are arguably the most influential in the world. The United States and China are the world’s two largest economies, and China is the United States’ second largest, and most important non-North American, trade partner. In 2009, “U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled $390 billion.” The following year, the total goods trade between China and the U.S. was $457 billion. Given the enormity of the economic partnership between the United States and China, the approaches the two countries take towards implementing corporate social responsibility will undoubtedly have global effects. Therefore, it is important to develop a keen understanding of their respective approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the implications their implementation methods have for corporations that conduct business worldwide and touch the lives of billions of people. The differing approaches to corporate social responsibility seen in the People’s Republic of China and the United States demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of CSR. A comparative study examining the social and legal history of CSR initiatives in both China and the United States will shed light on the different approaches and reveal a more effective model for the future.