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 NGOs and CSR in Iberian America
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Non-Governmental Organisations and Corporate Social Responsibility in Iberian America

Myriam Cardozo Brum and Álvaro J. de Regil Castilla

While decades ago CSR acquired much importance on the agenda of the European Union and of some of its member countries, in Iberian America there is little interest among national governments, the business community and universities. Nonetheless, some countries (Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, etc.) have begun developing a corporate social responsibility conscience thanks to the efforts of nongovernmental organisations, frequently supported by international organisations.

This work, comprised of five sections, is an assessment of the state of CSR in Iberian America from the perspective of civil society. The first section ponders the diverse scenarios under which CSR is approached by business and the second describes the current state of CSR practice among the different actors in the region. The third and fourth sections emphasise two key aspects absent from CSR culture worldwide but critical for Iberian America: the exclusion of the payment of living wages as a CSR standard and the lack of pre-established and mandatory standards for the accountability of corporations before governments and society, of which the first aspect is discussed in great detail. The last section argues (to some extent) in favour of the strategic value for Iberian America of leveraging the market via consumer pressure on a global scale. These last three aspects are examined in a global context, parting from the premise that the only successful CSR strategy for Iberian America is a global CSR strategy.

The authors' global prognosis regarding CSR is that both institutional investors and corporations will gradually conclude that they cannot maintain a zero-sum game ethos for too long if they want to have a future, and they will move to shift their vision from the extremely short-term to a balanced approach in the pursuit of their own sustainability. In this way, relative to Iberian America, if the problems caused by the impact of corporate activity are to be addressed, Iberian America's organised civil societies must mobilise with urgency to include, in the pursuit of a truly sustainable global CSR, the elements that are of keen interest for the region.

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This paper constitutes an updated and unabridged research work prepared in June 2004 to be edited and published as a chapter in: Jose Allouche (author/editor), Corporate Social Responsibility, Volume 2, Performances and Stakeholders, United Kingdom, October 2006, Palgrave Macmillan/European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). Because of the long period between the date of delivery and the date of publication, some of the data have been updated when appropriate.

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