Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is viewed as the set of activities, processes and decisions taken by organisations in order to create favourable societal outcomes and environmental sustainability (Khan, et al, 2012). It has been defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (1998) as;
“the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”.
In a similar view, European Union (2002) submitted that CSR is;
“a concept whereby a company integrates social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis as they are increasingly aware that responsible behaviour leads to sustainable business success”.
On a global scope, CSR could be presented as a stakeholders’ model which comprises:
– economic responsibility,
– legal responsibility,
– ethical responsibility,
– and philanthropic/voluntary responsibility
(Caroll. 1996; Ferrell. et al, 2008).
These variants of CSR which suggest that businesses are expected to;
i. make profit
ii. be law abiding
iii. be ethically cultured, and
iv. be good corporate citizens,
applies to the Nigerian business environment.
Adeyanju (2012) found out that there is a strong positive relationship between CSR and societal progress in terms of environmental and economic growth, while Carlsson and Akerstom (2008) concluded that companies that engage in CSR experience improvement of financial performance, competitive advantage and reputation.
Another empirical study by Odetayo, et al (2014) corroborates earlier work of Ojo (2010) where findings reveal that increase in CSR of Nigerian banks has a positive significant impact on profitability.
In Nigeria, economic responsibility is rated highest on the scale of corporate social responsibility, followed by philanthropic, legal and ethical responsibilities (Adeyanju, 2012). This is because CSR is still in its early state in Nigeria and is mistaken for philanthropy.