Review: Jeremy Moon, “A Very Short Introduction: Corporate Social Responsibility”

Moon has packed a wealth of knowledge on the burgeoning field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) into this ‘very short’ volume. This is an accessible text for those with at least a working knowledge of CSR and that are curious about learning more about it. Moon mixes technical terms with lucid descriptions and examples, which does aid as a purely introductory work, but prior knowledge (or at least awareness) will greatly aid the reader.

Moon’s work has several strengths. Most prominently, is its ability to provide a brief, working sketch of a field that can look different organization to organization. This provides tangible parameters for what qualifies as CSR. Related to this is the short genealogy of CSR/CSR research that is sprinkled throughout. Another notable strength is its inclusion of and responses to critiques of CSR ranging from the anti-capitalist to anti-corporate (e.g. George Monbiot) to the pro-business side of the spectrum (a la Milton Friedman).

This volume could have been improved by providing clearer definitions up front. Although that would have proved a difficult task because of the varied nature of CSR, it could have crystalized arguments and assumptions Moon makes throughout the work. Additionally, this work is several years old, which limits the current credibility of some of its research. However, because this is an introductory text, it serves as a gateway for understanding the business section of the newspaper on similar topics that Moon covers.

I recommend this work to those looking to understand this growing field from more than a pithy definition. This provides an excellent launching point for understanding ESG, CSR, and corporate citizenship. Moon provides a textured introduction to CSR that will encourage intellectual and professional intrigue on this topic.

Publication information:

Jeremy Moon. A Very Short Introduction: Corporate Social Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 154 pages. $11.95.