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Viviani, M. (2005). Corporate Social Responsibility: an evolutionary selection model. University of Bologna, PhD Thesis

Original Title: Responsabilità sociale d’impresa: un modello evolutivo di selezione

Michele Viviani

PhD Programme in Law and Economics
Università degli Studi di Bologna
Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
Supervisors: Professor Maurizio Baussola (Catholic University of Piacenza), Professor Pier Luigi Sacco (IUAV University of Venice)

June 2005


This work is meant as a discussion of different methodological approaches to the analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) . These different approaches could be seen as different answers to two related questions: What does CSR mean? And which is the proper analytical framework (or the proper description of the social and economic system) which should be used to address the issue?
These approaches are sorted out though a careful scrutiny of the literature that has emerged from the recent Italian debate which main feature is the strong methodological perspective from which the Csr concept has been approached. In other world Csr debate in Italy has been seen – from some scholars - as the proper occasion to critically discuss the theory of the firm.
These thesis offers a route in this field, organizing contributions into three mail stream.
The first stream of literature (see chapter 2) is embedded in the neo-classical approach that adapts – to the contemporary economic environment - the famous Milton Friedman’s statement that the social responsibility of the firm is to make profits (Friedman, 1970).
The second stream refers to a neo-contractualist approach, mainly developed by Lorenzo Sacconi (2000, 2003, 2004,), that can be considered as an insightful application of incomplete contracts theory, strongly characterized by a contractalist-oriented ethical perspective (see chapter 3).
The third stream is the relational approach developed by Bruni and Zamagni (2004), which takes the issue of social reproduction into account in the description of the economic system, thereby looking at firms as producers of relational goods (see chapter 5).
Finally (chapter 6), we propose some indication to build a different approach, that could be seen as a conventionalist view of corporate social responsibility, where firms are considered as organizational conventions (see Aoki, 1998, 2001).

Information on the author
Michele Viviani is post-doc research fellow at the Department of Economics of the University of Bologna.

Contact details
Dr Michele Viviani, Via del parco 18/2 40138 Bologna (Bo) Italy, viviani@economia.unibo.it

Additional information
This thesis is listed also in sections Sociology, English, and in the Chronological archive

Related works

2006: Il coinvolgimento degli stakeholder nelle organizzazioni socialmente responsabili, Maggioli Editore, Rimini.

2005: Corporate Social Responsibility: a critical appraisal of different methodological approaches (con PierLuigi Sacco), Finance and Common Good/ Bien Commun n° 23, 2005/2006

La responsabilità sociale d’impresa, un percorso nel dibattito italiano, Collana di Working Paper Cleonp Università di Bologna, sede di Forlì, n°11 2005 (www.aiccon.it/working_paper.cfm)


Viviani Michele


University of Bologna, Department of Economics

The Department of Economics was established in 1983 as a consequence of the union between the institute of economics at the faculty of economics and the institute of economics at the faculty of political sciences. It is currently the largest department of economics in Italy and their members...

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