Difference between Strategic and Responsive Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a business self-regulating model in which an organization remains socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. In the ordinary course of business, an organization has to remain friendly to the society in all aspects such as economic, social, and environmental. As the need for corporate social responsibility expands, organizations have found it important to remain socially conscious and to portray a good corporate image to the society. Corporate social responsibility can be discussed under two broad categories; strategic corporate social responsibility and responsive corporate social responsibility.

            In strategic CSR the organization takes its competitive advantage to improve the society as well as improving its competitive hedge. In the strategic approach, there is a direct link between the business normal activities and the social benefits which make the organization achieve its objective in the due course of undertaking its social responsibility (Page & Parnell, 2019). In strategic CSR the company invests in social aspects that strengthen business competitiveness. It becomes difficult to differentiate the strategies set to address the social need and the strategies set to execute the company’s core activities. A good example is the hybrid Toyota car which positioned them as the industry leader as well as helping to protect the environment.


            On the other hand, responsive CSR is aimed at reducing the harm to the society caused by the company’s day to day activities in the normal course of its business. It focuses on the social aspects such as the environment and education which does not benefit the organization directly. For example, a company may sponsor an educational program to benefit society but the program does not in any way benefit the company. Generally, the organization identifies the best practices which are of benefit to society and follow them up and try to keep them updated (Page & Parnell, 2019). By being responsive, companies try to avoid future liabilities which may come as a result of irresponsible activities to the society causing harm or loss to the citizens or environment. In responsive CSR, the company does not gain any competitive advantage but only tries to avoid future losses from its activities.

            One example of strategic corporate social responsibility is Anglo American, a mining company. The company developed one of the most advanced approaches to deal with the social impact and called it the socio-economic assessment toolbox. The company uses the approach to improve its trust and outcomes by identifying various stakeholders and the degree to which the project affects the company. The approach gives the company a competitive advantage as well as an economic benefit by increasing the productivity of its employees. An example of responsive CSR is Mattel toy manufacturing company in china. The plastic toys were causing a health risk to the American children by swallowing some parts of the toys. Mattel had to observe the Consumer Product and Safety Standards and recall the toys to avoid future harm to the consumers.

            In summary, it can be seen that corporate social responsibility can be done in any of the two approaches discussed. The choice of the approach to adopting highly depends on the company’s activities and its core objectives. If the company’s interests are in line with the social interest, then strategic CSR will be a good choice; otherwise, the company will have to be responsive to avoid harming society.


Page, J., & Parnell, L. (2019). Introduction to strategic public relations. Parnell Sage Publications.