The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Strategic CSR - Adam Smith

The article in the url below is a review of a book titled SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed. The review is by David Willetts, currently Britain’s Minister for Universities and Science, but someone who rose through the political ranks via Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit when she was Prime Minister.

Essentially, Willetts is using the review to advocate on behalf of the current UK Prime Minister’s push for a “Big Society,” an idea which softens the right-wing emphasis on the preeminence of markets by incorporating the importance of the social relations in which we are all embedded and rely on (think George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” or a 21st century version of George H.W. Bush’s “1,000 points of light”).

Rather than summarize the book’s (and review’s) arguments, which are complex (focusing on the “nexus of evolutionary biology, game theory, and neuroscience”), I quote the first paragraph as the framing of the article and encourage all who are interested to read further:

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations outlines the logic of modern capitalism; a world of competition in which benevolence is irrelevant. But in The Theory of Moral Sentiments he gave an account of morality resting on empathy and conscience as an impartial spectator observing our actions. The Adam Smith problem – how to reconcile these two great books – is also the challenge of how to order a society in which competition and ethical sensibility are combined.