Corporate Social Responsibility
12th Grade Corporate Social Responsibility Inquiry
Should Corporations Have a Conscience?
Download Entire Inquiry Here

Staging the Compelling Question
  • The compelling question could be staged by having students research corporations’ efforts to be socially responsible (e.g., Tyson Foods’ “Hunger Relief,” Häagen-Dazs’ “Honeybee Preservation,” and the “Ronald McDonald House” campaigns). Students could make a list of reasons why corporations would start these types of campaigns, how they might identify a niche or cause, and what issues might arise from these efforts.
Supporting Question 1- What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
  • Source A: Nicole Fallon, explanation of Corporate Social Responsibility, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” Business News Daily, 2015. 
  • Source B: Richard Holme and Phil Watts, study that examines what corporate social responsibility means as well as practices associated with that ethic, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Making Good Business Sense (excerpt), 2000. 
  • Source C: Jane Nelson, article providing an overview of corporate social responsibility  including risks, opportunities, and questions about this ethic, “The Public Role of Private Enterprise: Risks, Opportunities and New Models of Engagement” (excerpts), 2004. Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Working Paper No. 
Supporting Question 2- What are the benefits of corporate social responsibility?
Supporting Question 3- What are  the concerns about corporate social responsibility?
  • Source A: Milton Friedman, article arguing that maximizing profits is socially responsible, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” New York Times, September 13, 1970. 
  • Source B: Bill McKibben, article questioning the motives of corporations promoting corporate social responsibility, “Hype vs. Hope: Is Corporate Do-Goodery for Real?” Mother Jones, November/December, 2006  ©2006 Mother Jones and The Foundation for National Progress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Supporting Question 4- Is social responsibility in the best interest of society?
  • The final supporting question—“Is social responsibility in the best interest of society?”—anchors the formative performance task, which is a structured academic controversy that asks students to discuss the benefits and concerns of corporate social responsibility. In groups of four, two students should argue that that social responsibility is in the best interest of society and two should argue that it is not in society’s best interest.
  • Appendix A