Identifying Commonalities in CSR Definitions: Some Perspectives

  • Henk KloppersEmail author
  • Elbé Kloppers
Part of the Accounting, Finance, Sustainability, Governance & Fraud: Theory and Application book series (AFSGFTA)


This article analyses different definitions of CSR formulated by a variety of authors and organizations to determine the basic principles thereof; and to identify the differences and similarities between the content of international and South African definitions. An extensive literature review has been conducted to identify a variety of relevant definitions for CSR, including international and South African definitions. These definitions were analysed through qualitative content analysis, in an inductive manner. The main principles of both international and South African definitions were identified, after which these principles were compared in order to draw conclusions regarding the differences and similarities thereof. There are a number of common principles which can be found in the majority of definitions for CSR, even though there are slight differences in nuances. The principles of CSR in South Africa are in line with those of international definitions, but additional principles are identified, all of which can be linked to the country’s history of apartheid and its current attempts to correct the wrongs of the past. The paper suggests that for CSR initiatives to be relevant in different countries, the definition thereof should be formulated taking the unique issues and context of a particular country into account. Therefore, although there are a number of widely accepted principles for CSR which should be honoured, there cannot be one universally accepted definition for CSR. This paper highlights the communalities among seemingly different definitions of CSR, narrowing it down to a number of basic principles. It further illustrates how the CSR agenda in South Africa differs from the international conceptualization thereof and suggests a clearer and more unified approach to conceptualizing and defining CSR within the South African context, to further reflect the unique history and issues of the country. It is suggested that CSR definitions should be contextual and reflect the uniqueness of different countries.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) Corporate social investment (CSI) CSR definitions South Africa 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus)PotchefstroomSouth Africa

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