Revisiting Carroll’s CSR Pyramid:
An African Perspective
Article by Wayne Visser
This article has two primary objectives: 1) To use Archie Carroll’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Pyramid to illustrate the nature of CSR in Africa; and 2) To use the context of Africa to demonstrate the limitations of Carroll’s CSR Pyramid as a framework for understanding CSR. Anglo American is used as a case study to illustrate the debate.
The African Context
The debate over Africa’s future has taken centre stage recently, with the publication of Our Common Interest, the report of the UK’s Commission for Africa. The report calls for improved governance and capacity building, the pursuit of peace and security, investment in people, economic growth and poverty reduction, and increased and fairer trade. It is not hard to see that business has a key role to play in this transformation process, with much of its contribution capable of being to be framed in terms of CSR.
Despite generally negative press, there has been significant progress on the continent over the past decade. Fifteen countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, have been growing on average more than 5% per year since the mid-1990s. And foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to $8.5 billion in 2004, up from $7.8 billion the previous year. At the same time, Africa’s new generation of leaders, through initiatives like the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union and the East African Community, are taking responsibility for development.
Nevertheless, Africa remains a marginal region in global terms: With 12% of the world’s population (around 750 million people) in 53 countries, Africa accounts for less than 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and FDI, and less than 10% of FDI to all developing countries. Of the 81 poorest countries prioritised by the International Development Association, almost half are in Africa. And even within Africa, there is highly skewed development, with the largest ten economies accounting for 75% of the continent’s GDP.
The extent of the challenge for CSR in Africa becomes even clearer when we are reminded of the scale of social needs that still exist, despite decades of aid and development effort: Life expectancy in Africa is still only 50 years on average (and as low as 38 years in some countries), Gross National Income per capita averages $650 (and drops as low as $90 in some countries) and the adult literacy rate is less than 20% in some countries. At the current pace of development, Sub-Saharan Africa would not reach the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction until 2147 and for child mortality until 2165; and as for HIV/Aids and hunger, trends in the region are heading up, not down.
The Role of Business
The track record of big business in Africa is mixed at best. There is certainly no shortage of examples of corporate complicity in political corruption, environmental destruction, labour exploitation and social disruption, stretching back more than 100 years. Equally, however, there is …
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Cite this article
Adapted from: Visser, W. (2005) Revisiting Carroll’s CSR Pyramid: An African Perspective. In Corporate Citizenship in a Development Perspective, edited by Esben Rahbek Pedersen & Mahad Huniche, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.