UNRISD Research and Policy Brief 1: Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Regulation


Thinking and policy on corporate regulation have been in flux during recent decades. Whereas the neoliberal discourse of the 1980s emphasized deregulation and corporate rights, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda of the 1990s stressed corporate self-regulation and voluntary initiatives involving, for example, codes of conduct, improvements in occupational health and safety, environmental management systems, social and environmental reporting, support for community projects and philanthropy. As the limits of self-regulation became apparent, and as the regulatory capacity or willingness of developing country governments, international bodies and trade unions continued to decline, alternative regulatory approaches have emerged. These have centred on coregulation, in which a combination of government, multilateral, civil society and business interests engage in public-private partnerships (PPPs) and multistakeholder initiatives (MSIs) associated with standard setting, reporting, monitoring, auditing and certification. More recently there have been increasing calls for corporate accountability and a renewed interest in international regulation of transnational corporations (TNCs). From the perspective of development and good governance, how effective are these different approaches?

Briefing available in english, french and spanish.


United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva, Switzerland, ISSN 1811-0142, 4 pp.

Published 1 January 2004