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Evolving Corporate Social Responsibility in China

College of Information and Management Science, Henan Agricultural University, Longzi Lake Campus, Zhengzhou East New District, Zhengzhou 450046, China
Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
Department of Economics, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 218, Reading RG6 6AA, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 7646-7665;
Received: 10 September 2014 / Revised: 24 October 2014 / Accepted: 27 October 2014 / Published: 3 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
PDF [797 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


With a unique cultural background and fast economic development, China’s adoption of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become the center of discussion worldwide, and its successful implementation will have great significance for global sustainability. This paper aims to explore how CSR has given way to economic growth in China since the start of economic transition and its cultural, historical and political background, and how this has affected or been affected by the economic performance of firms. Thus, the recent calls for China to adopt CSR in its industries follow a period where the country arguably had one of the strongest implementations of CSR approaches in the world. This transition is considered in the context of a case study of a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) and a group of small private firms in the same industrial sector in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province over a time span of eight years. While the CSR of the SOE has been steadily decreasing along with the change of ownership structure, its economic performance did not improve as expected. On the other hand, with a steady improvement in economic performance, the small private firms are showing a great reluctance to engage in CSR. The results indicate that implementation of CSR in China needs both the manager’s ethical awareness and the change of institutional framework. The results also raise the question as to whether CSR is a universal concept with a desired means of implementation across the developed and developing world. View Full-Text
Keywords: corporate social responsibility; economic performance; China corporate social responsibility; economic performance; China

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Zhang, D.; Morse, S.; Kambhamptati, U.; Li, B. Evolving Corporate Social Responsibility in China. Sustainability 2014, 6, 7646-7665.

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