Toufiqul Islam , Azizur Rahman Sharif
During the end of 1990s, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) discourse embraced within its folder various forms of voluntary CSR codes made by different authorities from different angles along with statutory binding rules framed by the governments. CSR is an emerging business agenda in the corporate world though it takes different shapes in different countries. However, CSR is basically a package of ethical and social responsibilities taken by the enterprises.
The necessity of CSR cannot be taken lightly for its multifarious dimensions from labour rights to environment. Seen in this light, the book, “CSR in Private Enterprises in Developing Countries; Evidences from the Ready-Made Garments Industry in Bangladesh,” written predominantly in the context of Bangladeshi CSR practice focusing on the ready made garments (RMG) sector by Nakib Muhmmad Nasrullah, Associate Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka and Mia Mahmudur Rahim, Senior Lecturer, School of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, is a timely and remarkable contribution to the CSR phenomena of the developing countries.
The book is organised in seven chapters; the first introducing the study, the second conceptualising the CSR, the third delineating the trends of CSR in the developed and the developing countries, four to six dealing with the case of Bangladesh and the last one dealing with some suggestions for Bangladesh in relation to CSR compliance shaped the book.
The book introduces CSR and focuses on its present status in the global context claiming CSR as a non-binding and voluntary concept grown at the hands of the corporate world evolving with the influence of the multi-player activism. It argues that the current concept of CSR, originating in Europe, is generally presumed to be a western concept and fits in with western economic and social reality.
The book portrays the definition of CSR based on various angles and aspects by different academics based on varied contexts with lucid interpretation. It further tries to show that the idea of CSR is not hazy and ambiguous. The authors elucidates the concept of CSR discussing the various dimensions and elements of it.
The sequel of CSR standards and its evolving nature from institutional perspective, different codes that helped develop CSR mechanisms, eg, OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises, UN Global Compact, ISO 14001, SA 8000, etc formed by the inter-governmental organisations, get examined. The authors have tried to establish that though the codes are mostly concerned about the developed world’s enterprises they are playing a great role to expand the concept of CSR in case of environmental issues and workplace conditions mostly in the developing countries.
The writers expose the drift of CSR in the corporate world, pinpointing how the developed, the developing and the least developed countries are accommodating and practising CSR.
With a perusal of the book, one can easily comprehend how brand image, reputation and consumers’ awareness in the internal market have worked to give CSR a strong and robust base in the developed world. On the other hand, the external factors, basically the pressure from the buyers, the fear of cancellation of orders, as the authors claim, compelled the enterprises of the developing countries with a few exceptions to integrate CSR. Moreover, the authors narrate how the interventions of the governments with statutes pertinent to CSR are backing up the promotion of CSR.
The study contends with a fascinating assessment that the impacts of the buyer driven global supply chain, absence of awareness of local stakeholders, lack of government’s intervention have contributed to start sporadic and slow CSR practice in Bangladesh. It rightly demonstrates that the trend of social reporting and social audit has started in CSR practice but with a slow pace as the enterprises do not know its significance in business transparency. Further, the illustration on the need of CSR compliance from multiple looks with a brief note on the obstacles slowing down the acceleration of CSR compliance is present throughout the study. Though CSR, as the book emphasises, is completely an ethical and social issue, the book touches the laws of Bangladesh that provide a legal basis for CSR.
Depicting the tragic incidents of Tazreen and Rana Plaza that left more than a thousand workers dead and a few hundred crippled, the book reveals the shabby picture of CSR compliance in the RMG sector. It also notes how the greed and caprice of the world-class buyers like Walmart as well as the indifference of the local enterprises have suffocated the improvement of CSR compliance. It helps the readers grab the core idea of CSR practice with outstanding statistical data and information on practical steps and initiatives taken in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
The study draws a comparative study on Bangladesh and Vietnam in relation to CSR compliance. It shows that Vietnam is rapidly advancing while Bangladesh is marooned with restraints and obstacles in CSR development. Chapter seven concludes the study claiming that the growth of CSR is ever emerging and spawning with the pace of business and offers some recommendations for CSR compliance in Bangladesh.
The extensive study of CSR would have been elevated further with the insertion of a more see through analysis of the relevant laws and establishing a bridge between CSR and the laws which facilitate CSR in the developed and the developing countries. The authors’ collective work proves to be an excellent contribution to the understanding of CSR in the developing world, especially in Bangladesh.
Based on global concept of CSR and local experience, this is an orotund, well-written and engaging piece. The book, rich with references, is a must read for the inquisitive minds, legal and business readers, human right activists, and for the law and business students as it offers convincing concept of CSR analysed from diverse perspective.Book Details
Nakib Muhammad Nasrullah and Mia Mahmudur Rahim, “CSR in Private Enterprises in Developing Countries; Evidences from the Ready-Made Garments Industry in Bangladesh” (2014), First Edition, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.
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