Corporate social responsibility (CSR) expresses a fundamental morality in the way a company behaves toward society. It follows ethical behavior toward stakeholders and recognizes the spirit of the legal and regulatory environment. The idea of CSR gained momentum in the late 1950s and 1960s with the expansion of large conglomerate corporations and became a popular subject in the 1980s with R. Edward Freeman's Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach and the many key works of Archie B. Carroll, Peter F. Drucker, and others. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008–2010, CSR has again become a focus for evaluating corporate behavior.
First published in 1953, Howard R. Bowen’s Social Responsibilities of the Businessman was the first comprehensive discussion of business ethics and social responsibility. It created a foundation by which business executives and academics could consider the subjects as part of strategic planning and managerial decision-making. Though written in another era, it is regularly and increasingly cited because of its relevance to the current ethical issues of business operations in the United States. Many experts believe it to be the seminal book on corporate social responsibility.
This new edition of the book includes an introduction by Jean-Pascal Gond, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at Cass Business School, City University of London, and a foreword by Peter Geoffrey Bowen, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, who is Howard R. Bowen's eldest son.
"Howard Bowen’s landmark book Social Responsibilities of the Businessman launched the modern era of significant, serious writings on the topic. As its title suggests, there were few businesswomen during this period, but this book is essential to men and women alike in business and academe today. In this classic volume, Bowen posed the question that has been driving the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for over half a century: What responsibilities to society may businesspeople reasonably be expected to assume? This seminal book should be number one on everyone’s reading list in social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and sustainability today. I am thrilled that it is being republished so that everyone now can get their own copy."—Archie B. Carroll, professor emeritus of management, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia