BEST BOOKS ON BUSINESS ETHICS – CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

PUBLISHED ON DEC. 21, 2019 | 21 MIN READ

best books on business ethics - corporate responsibility

What are the best books on business ethics – corporate social responsibility?

Best Books on Business Ethics – Corporate Social Responsibility

THE LIST:

1. Corporate Social Responsibility
2. Investing in Corporate Social Responsibility
3. The Greening of IT
4. The New Rules of Green Marketing
5. Ecological Intelligence
6. Environmentalism of the Rich
7. The Sustainability Edge
8. A Path Appears
9. The Business Solution to Poverty
10. Stewardship
11. Enough
12. Corporate Universities
13. The Nonprofit Membership Toolkit
14. Corporate Social Responsibility
15. Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility

1 – Corporate Social Responsibility | By Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee

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Consumers, nowadays, expect companies to function based on higher public standards. Executives, at large or small corporations, realize that when their businesses operate according to the rules of social principles, they are going to enjoy its benefits such as higher profits, improved company reputation, and more satisfied employees. Philip Kotler, a marketing expert, and author, and Nancy Lee, a social marketing expert, define six ways on how you can develop and carry out a corporate social plan, in Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. They thoroughly explain and evaluate each initiative by its chapter. They also include figurative examples of prosperous campaigns from top of the line corporations such as American Express, The Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry’s. Although their methods are sometimes redundant, the points are indispensable enough to disregard the repetitions.

Quotes from the book;

“Signals point to increased corporate giving, increased corporate reporting on social responsibility initiatives (and) the establishment of a corporate social norm to do good.”

“We are on the threshold of a new era in which all of us – corporations, individuals, government, and other organizations – can join together to cooperate on the healing of our earth.” [- Motorola]


2 – Investing in Corporate Social Responsibility | By John Hancock

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This book, Investing in Corporate Social Responsibility: A Guide to Best Practice, Business Planning and the UK’s Leading Companies,  is all about how leading British companies became more socially responsible. John Hancock covers extensive chapters from multiple British executives and experts on the fundamental topics relevant to social responsibility such as the environment, investing, improving life quality, and corporate governance. The contributors in this book entail how CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) campaign has changed many British businesses in terms of conducting their daily operations. Many corporate managers from the US, who are competing with the Sarbanes-Oxley, may feel challenged after reading how their counterparts from the UK are now obliged to run their businesses according to CSR standards. This book is a helpful manual for British businessmen who are highly interested in their US counterparts and all business leaders and strategists. 

Quotes from the book;

“Corporate citizenship is not just about charitable giving; rather it is the whole way in which a company, (and) its products and services interact with society.”

“The majority of institutions see the primary objective of corporate governance as ensuring long-term value creation and financial stability.”

“A common feature of nearly every corporate disaster is that, afterwards, you will find good people inside the organization who will say, ’If anybody had asked me I could have told them something was not right’.”

“Intellectual capital has become the most important factor in creating wealth; ergo, identifying and managing it has become the single most important driver of competitive advantage and sustainable value creation.”

“Corporate responsibility can add significant value to a company beyond just the protection of reputation and maintaining a license to operate.”


3 – The Greening of IT | By John Lamb

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The increase in energy usage is not good for the environment; thus, corporations must become more energy efficient. Corporations that use substantial amounts of energy to power their IT operations may save costs while helping the environment by going green in their IT departments. IT architect John Lamb explains how to make that possible through this practical and factual book. He cites various studies from different companies, including non-profits that are able to switch to green IT; this book, The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment, is highly recommended to CEOs and IT professionals. Additionally, business executives are most likely to understand it, although there are technical data included for IT experts who aim to run cost-efficient and sustainable operations. 

Quotes from the book;

“Green computing promises an enormous win for IT: a chance to save money – and the environment.” (ComputerWorld)

“The flat world of the 21st century has enabled global corporations to optimize their IT anywhere on the planet it makes business sense.”

“In Europe, for several years, consumers and businesses have earned more favorable rates if they use less energy during peak hours.”

“Data centers consume more energy per square foot than any other part of an office building.”


4 – The New Rules of Green Marketing | By Jacquelyn Ottman

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Jacquelyn Ottman, a green marketing specialist plainly states her case: the public has gone green and being sustainable is the main new political and commercial watchword. As an outcome, environmental liability and sustainable development of products are becoming the main commercial standard. Ottman discusses the ways on how to come up with an environmentally-responsible marketing method that can deliver long-term profitability and success. She shows solid marketing opinions; numerous consumers have also received the environmental message and began shopping consciously for environment-friendly products. This book, The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding,  is factual and forward-thinking and helps in the promotion of eco-friendly and sustainable goods and services.

Quotes from the book;

“Over the past decade, few marketing topics have been more dynamic than that of ‘green’ or ‘sustainability’.” – Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, co-founders and CEOs of Method

“It is possible that your brand may qualify for more than one eco-label, and for more than one product attribute, e.g., ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, et cetera.”

“Marketers who don’t tout the sustainability achievements of their brands may find that consumers and other stakeholders assume their products and processes are not ecologically sound.”

“Experts in creating economic value have much to learn from nonprofits that excel in creating and measuring environmental and social value.”

“In 2006, over 30 billion bottles of water were consumed in the United States – 86% of the bottles subsequently became litter or [was] sent to landfills.”


5 – Ecological Intelligence | By Daniel Goleman

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In today’s materialistic world, convenience and luxury are everywhere. However, the toll it took on the environment and human health is clearly undeniable. Emotional intelligence specialist Daniel Goleman compellingly contends for “radical transparency” in regards to environmental impact. He states that if consumers realize how the products they purchase destruct the planet, they would start making more environmentally-friendly choices. Goleman insists this transparency will help people become more eco-conscious, help mother nature, and even increase business profits. This is a persuasive and factual book of cause for industry transparency. Goleman works eagerly to prove that it is a concept of whose hour has come, in Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything

Quotes from the book;

“Radical transparency means tracking every substantial impact of an item from manufacture to disposal…and summarizing those impacts for shoppers as they are deciding what to purchase.”

“When Wal-Mart asked its truck drivers not to idle their diesel engines anymore – and installed smaller generators just to power the truckers’ cabins – the company saved $25 million a year.”

“Ecologically intelligent companies will be proactive: businesses will want to…know about epigenetic data, collaborate with suppliers to make shifts, see marketplace feedback as actionable information and perceive the change as a business opportunity.”

“By measuring a product’s resource burden we can see how much raw material was consumed and what kind of contamination resulted or value was destroyed.”

“Nothing in our evolutionary past has shaped our brain for spotting less palpable threats like the slow heating of the planet [or] the insidious spread of destructive chemical particulates.”


6 – Environmentalism of the Rich | By Peter Dauvergne

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For the past 50 years, the environmental campaign has delivered bigger impacts than the majority of other mass movements. However, in Environmentalism of the Rich, Peter Dauvergne, an outstanding environmental author and an international relations instructor at The University of British Columbia states that the movement may risk losing its core purpose if it allows major corporations to determine its agenda. A lot of businesses only care about profitability without taking the environmental effects of their actions into consideration. Environmentalists have to argue and criticize useless market solutions, false initiative campaigning as CSR, and company partnerships with non-profit organizations. Dauvergne encourages people to embrace environmental responsibility. 

Quotes from the book;

“Calls to reduce humanity’s impact on nature are louder than ever – and coming from every spot on Earth. The courage of activists has never been greater; nor has the desire of ordinary people to live more sustainably.”

“Even seeming regulatory successes are often lost in the shadows of global trade as firms increase exports to places with lower standards.”

“Warning sirens [about ethyl gasoline] did not go off until the mid-1960s when Clair Patterson, a geochemist renowned for dating the age of the earth at 4.55 billion years, discovered that lead levels of Americans were 100 times higher than was natural.”

“Efficiency gains and savings from corporate sustainability are going straight back into churning out more nondurable and disposable products, building more big-box stores and producing more billionaires.”

“Activist campaigns over social media have clearly damaged brand reputations and influenced large numbers of consumers.”


7 – The Sustainability Edge | By Suhas Apte and Jagdish Sheth

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Nowadays, numerous consumers, as well as investors, are giving corporations the pressure to become more responsible and conscious of the way they run their businesses. Companies must renew themselves in order to meet the current financial, social, and environmental challenges. Sustainability advisor Suhas Apte and commerce instructor Jagdish Sheth considers sustainability as the center of persisting growth and longstanding success. The authors illustrate a “roadmap for sustainability” to serve as your organization’s reference through the renewal towards meeting this aim and figure out ways to enlist all your shareholders. The Sustainability Edge: How to Drive Top-Line Growth with Triple-Bottom-Line Thinking is recommended to advanced-thinking business managers and environmental supporters.

Quotes from the book;

“The next major competency that businesses will need to pursue and fully integrate to gain a sustainable and consistent competitive advantage will be sustainability itself.”

“Today’s best companies recognize that doing ‘good’ is more beneficial than doing ‘less bad’ and that…doing ‘good’ actually creates more measurable financial value.”

“Becoming increasingly sustainable is the only way a business can both create a lasting competitive advantage…and preserve its own longevity in the face of evolving global challenges.”

“Individuals and institutions want to invest in a manner that is consistent with their specific beliefs and values.”

“The Sustainability Edge’ is the ideology and process that can help every business stand on a firmer foundation, reach higher and travel farther in this uncertain world.”


8 – A Path Appears | By Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

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Pulitzer award-winning authors Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof affirm compellingly that each individual has the power to change lives and spread opportunities. Their book stands out in its encouraging anecdotes, regarding people who won against the challenges that can hinder effective humanitarianism. The authors highlight their amazing stories together with the outcomes of their studies that prove that the help efforts they give are effective at resolving the major underlying issues. In a few sections, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, this study can be quite dense for regular readers; however, the authors made a persuasive point that everyone is able to give back. The authors provide factual and practical input to all readers who aspire to help a cause.

Quotes from the book;

“Paradoxically, it’s when people are feeling hurt and sad that they often benefit the most from turning outward and trying to help others.”

“Astonishingly, observations of parenting skills in the first 42 months of life could predict with 77% accuracy whether the child would graduate from high school.”

“There are few more selfish pleasures than altruism.”

“Currently more than 90% of our education dollars are spent after age five, yet 85% of a child’s core brain structure is developed before age five.”

“When for-profit companies, whether a small bakery or a mighty corporation, tackle social problems, they can have at least as much impact as a nonprofit.”


9 – The Business Solution to Poverty | By Paul Polak and Mal Warwick

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Mal Warwick and Paul Polak, two veterans in the battle against underdevelopment in the Global South wrote a case concluding that the long-term efforts of both private and public forces to improve the desperately poor areas of the world have failed. They recommend an alternative – a confirmed “business approach” that transforms the poverty-stricken into workers of profitable local businesses and better the quality of their lives. In The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for Three Billion New Customers,  the authors highlight practical strategies and provide examples of failures and successes. They emphasize the affordability of products, aspirational branding, simplicity, and the possibility of scaling up. Scale issue which is expanding across the globe to accommodate billions of customers. Warwick asserts that multinational companies must acknowledge that their enduring growth depends on the creation of products and markets for these people. 

Quotes from the book;

“To date, poverty…is still the defining circumstance in the lives of nearly two out of every five human beings on Earth.”

“One of the greatest impediments to achieving scale is the high cost of delivering products and services not just the ‘last mile’ but the last 500 feet.”

“Unless you yourself grew up in poverty in the Global South, you’ll find an environment there that may be radically different from anything you’ve experienced before.”

“Do not mistake the businesses we’re proposing as philanthropic ventures. In fact, these businesses are designed to realize generous profits while fulfilling their social mission.”

“The remedy we propose is to tap the mainstream capital markets to fund large-scale, global enterprises that address the basic needs of…2.7 billion people.”


10 – Stewardship | By John Taft

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What are the reasons for the occurrence of the financial crisis in 2008? What actions must the government and the banks take to avoid the same dilemma in the future? In what way individual investors can protect themselves? John Taft, the Securities Industry head provides a number of thought-provoking solutions to these questions and even more. Being the president of one of the biggest full-service investments in the US, counseling, and revenue management companies, and as a leader of SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Management Association), Taft provides an insider viewpoint in Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street. His positions grant factual heft to his rebuke to Wall Street: make concern for your customer’s interest in your main mission. He also urges everyone to be responsible for securing the planet’s future. 

Quotes from the book;

“Core principles are the only solid ground under our feet when everything is, or seems to be, unstable.”

“The best way to make it through a crisis is to stop focusing on your own problems and start helping others with theirs.”

“The rewriting of the rules under which financial institutions operate has the potential to be a major stewardship success story.”

“To recover from a crisis, you have to survive the crisis…which means having access to liquid sources of enough cash to pay for years (possibly) of living expenses.”

“In 2008 and 2009, many of us saw how, during periods of extreme dislocation, emotionality can literally paralyze us.”


11 – Enough | By Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman

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Farm aids were introduced as a great method to safeguard the hardworking European and US farmers against the unexpected changes in the marketplace and climate. However, they slowly transformed into a pivotal cause for the regular suffering of the developing world for disastrous famines. The effects of aids on product prices generally mean that poverty-stricken farmers, especially in Africa, will not be able to make money when selling their yield; thus, they don’t have the capacity to purchase seedlings and fertilizers which are needed in order for them to grow their own crops in the future. Without having the right means, their families will suffer in starvation as a consequence. In this book, Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, the authors study how the practices of first world countries keep developing countries in poverty and hunger. 

Quotes from the book;

“In the modern world, like never before, famine is by and large preventable. When it occurs, it represents civilization’s collective failure.”

“Filling a 25-gallon fuel tank of a sport utility vehicle with a blend containing 85% ethanol…would consume about eight bushels of corn, which contained enough calories to feed a person for a year.”

“Today, eliminating hunger would be a bulwark against the extremism of the 21st century: global terrorism.”

“In 2007, the average household income of [US] farmers was $86,233, which was 27.5% greater than the average income of all US households.”

“Borlaug’s seeds made him a celebrity in Asia, which he exploited to grab newspaper headlines in order to cajole government officials into helping farmers get fertilizer, credit and subsidies.”


12 – Corporate Universities | By Annick Renaud-Coulon

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Annick Renaud-Coulon, an outstanding leader in the area of corporate academies and head of the GlobalCCU educates that companies must contribute to the good of the majority by promoting CSR and Sustainable Advancement and Responsibility with their in-house educational associations and programs. Elaborating her contemporary theories in this book in the English language for the first time, the author focuses on utilizing corporate education to help organizations and groups attain social ideals. This book is a compilation of academic expositions, from the citizenship theory, the state to CSR, and global adjustment. The readers of this book will find the author’s thought span as astonishingly broad as she entails the fundamentals for this responsibility-centered case for corporate academies. 

Quotes from the book;

“Corporate university is a generic name given to educational structures based in private and public, commercial and noncommercial organizations, to help implement – through education – the organization’s strategies in human, economic, financial, technological, social and environmental terms.”

“Sustainability reports can be a rich and empowering source of information whether you are a consumer, employee, investor, researcher [or] active member of your community.”

“[The company] must learn how to cope with the reactions that result from political movements or natural events. No island of wealth has ever survived long in a sea of poverty.”

“The idea of transforming a corporate university into a lever for Corporate Responsibility is a veritable paradigm, a new way of reshaping the world.”

“Like a UFO, the corporate university appears flawed, hybrid and empirical.”


13 – The Nonprofit Membership Toolkit | By Ellis Robinson and Kim Klien

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This book, The Nonprofit Membership Toolkit,  is especially helpful for non-profits that are in need of political influence, financial support, credibility, labor without charge, and all other advantages which members can give. This book not only provides ample information about members’ recruitment, but it also provides free online copies of worksheets and forms which you can utilize to help improve your group’s membership agenda. At the beginning of this book, membership is thoroughly explained. Although it may seem self-evident, the core description of membership reveals some impressive twists. This book will help you avoid committing very evident mistakes, including the failure of converting the people who reached out to you to be members. It is a forthright workbook with exceptional examples. 

Quotes from the book;

“In the best membership programs, the member and the organization share a clear, mutually beneficial understanding of the benefits of membership to both parties.”

“Renewals can be a great opportunity not only to ask members to continue to support your organization and get more involved, but also to increase their level of support.”

“Advocating for social change is an important and valuable responsibility of your nonprofit organization.”

“Direct mail may not be right for you now if you are a very small organization, but if you hope to grow, it probably will become an important tool in the near future.”

“As foundation and corporate funding diminishes, healthy organizations will increasingly depend on their members as sources of speedy support.”


14 – Corporate Social Responsibility | By Andreas Rasche, Mette Morsing, and Jeremy Moon

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This advanced-level book, Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance,  provides an authentic and latest intro to the issues in CSR from a worldwide perspective. Written by a global team of specialists, it provides guidance to students through pivotal CSR themes including communication, strategy, governance, and regulation. Stabilizing the critics of CSR with a conversation of the favorable circumstances it creates, it contains chapters dedicated to social problems such as labor rights, anti-corruption, human rights, and the environment. Pedagogical columns include custom-made case studies, questions, key phrase highlighting, professional pieces, and recommendations for additional resources. The book is also integrated by a partner website promoting lesson slides, lecture notes, and relevant resources links. This book is catered towards advanced-level undergraduates and postgraduate curriculum on CSR business ethics and sustainability. Furthermore, this book is also suitable for non-business curriculums in international communications and relations and political science.

Quotes from the book;

“Consider the following three facts: The revenue of the largest corporation in the world, Wal-mart Stores ($82 billion in 2014), is worth more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of all but twenty-seven of the world’s economies. The world’s largest asset management firm, a New York-based company called Black Rock, currently manages $4.5 trillion of assets and thus invests more money than the total monetary reserves of any country in the world (China having the largest reserves with $3.9 trillion in 2015).”

“The relationship between corporations and (global) society has also shifted because of the rise of the digital economy.”


15 – Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility | By David Chandler

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This book, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation,  redefines CSR as the core of the value-production goal of the company. With the basis of the empowered stakeholders’ theory, this best-selling book by David Chandler asserts that a corporation’s responsibility is to generate value, extensively defined. In this book, David Chandler studies why some companies are good at CSR and how other businesses can possibly better their CSR resolutions. Moreover, this book aims to ensure profitability through improved relationships and communication with all stakeholders and not only shareholders. As Chandler affirms, CSR is a duty among businesses to cater to the demands of their stakeholders, and it is the stakeholders’ responsibility to hold businesses accountable for their actions. 

Quotes from the book;

“People create organizations to leverage their collective resources in pursuit of common goals.”

“Within society, therefore, there is a mix of these organizational forms. Each performs different roles, but each also depends on the others to provide the complete patchwork of exchange interactions (of products and services, financial and social capital, etc.).”

“Ultimately, a firm’s success is directly related to its ability to incorporate stakeholder concerns into its business model.”

“The call for social responsibility among businesses is not a new concept. In short, “the pursuit of profit has been ‘unloved’ since Socrates declared that ‘the more [men] think of making a fortune, the less they think of virtue.”


Final Thoughts

This article was an attempt to consolidate the best books on business ethics – corporate social responsibility. Obviously, the list is not an exhausted list of every book on the subject. However, the ‘best books on business ethics – corporate social responsibility’ list attempt to orchestrate different angles and degrees on business ethics – corporate social responsibility.


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Books Best Books on Business Ethics – Corporate Social Responsibility