In this contribution Ernst von Kimakowitz outlines the fundamental difference between three terms that are used with much ambiguity in the CSR debate. These are compliance, responsibility and philanthropy.
This paper argues that we ought to view compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks not an expression of but a prerequisite for responsible business conduct. Corporate philanthropy on the other hand is a nice to have that should be welcomed but it only shows how a part of the money that has been earned is spent by a business organization. The real questions surrounding CSR however are those that address how a company earns its money in the first place; what are the means deployed to generate earnings and what measures of self restraint are in place to prevent business practices that are not aligned to responsible business conduct?