Corporate Social Responsibility in the Global Economy ESH5066

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Today, Corporate Social Responsibility is understood to encompass numerous strands: the protection of the environment; protection of the rights of minorities, gender equality, education (both technical and social), and philanthropic activities. This has had the effect of increasing the pressure on MNEs to conform or keep up, but has also enabled MNEs to promote themselves as responsible, benevolent, and considerate employers. Importantly, CSR is largely self-regulated; that is, firms and MNEs may wish to go beyond local or national regulations, but are not compelled to do so, other than by their own constituencies, activists, or would-be customers. Thus, while MNEs have the potential - or responsibility - to globalise particular values in ways national governments can or do not, some important gaps still remain. This course will examine whether these practices are driven by business interests over wider humanitarian and environmental concerns and will critically examine to what extent are MNEs using CSR to attempt to redress prior failures.


10 x 2 hour classes, once per week, with a review session at the end of the semester. Each class will comprise a lecture and then group-work in a seminar setting. Timetabling challenges may exist.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





The class will be assessed by:

An individual case study project (30%), where students examine and contextualise one aspect of the CSR activities of a given organisation in a particular country or region (1500 words, with presentation). Students will be encouraged to use primary sources including corporate records, social media and news reports.

At the end of term, a topical essay (70%) from a prescribed list will be required, with the emphasis on stressing change and developments over time (3500 words).

Course Aims

■ To encourage students to investigate a variety of questions concerning how and why the shift towards more socially responsible behaviour occurred

■ To promote a critical understanding of MNEs' CSR activities through analysis of secondary literature, and through utilising case studies of firms, sectors, nations, regulators and activism groups to understand these shifts and trends

■ To encourage students to develop a critical understanding of how, and to what extent, CSR has shaped practice amongst firms and has enabled global dialogues concerning the environment and human rights

■ To encourage reflective, resourceful and effective understandings of the broader strategic and operational needs of firms and policy makers

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Demonstrate critical awareness of key issues relating to the development of corporate social responsibility practices by major corporations and MNEs within the global economy

■ Evaluate the strategies employed by MNEs and major corporations which have adopted socially   responsible behaviours and policies within different regional and national contexts

■ Assess how the continued development and spread of multinational enterprise across the globe and its relation to environmental and social challenges, including the capacity of MNEs to exacerbate and/or mitigate in these areas 

■ Integrate the critical analysis of primary research data relating to corporate social responsibility policies to provide an evaluation of such practices and to explore the strengths and limitations of such data in understanding policies and practices

■ Produce sustained and reasoned arguments in written form, and orally within class discussions, on a variety of sources relating to corporate social responsibility in the global economy

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.