From the debates regarding the wisdom of corporate social responsibility have arisen different categories of attitude that firms take in relation to their stakeholders. . One of these is called strategic corporate social responsibility, an interesting perspective that is often equated with enlightened self-interest.
A considerable amount of literature has been produced on the subject of the stakeholder concept. In addition to the identification of who these stakeholders are, attempts have been made to categorise them. Clarkson (1995) has divided them into primary stakeholders and secondary stakeholders. The former are those who are essential to the survival of the firm: the owners/shareholders, customers, employees, communities, the government, and (contingently) suppliers and creditors. Secondary stakeholders are those that are not essential to the firms’ survival but are affected by its operations. these include interest groups such as environmentalists, the media, intellectual critics, trade associations, and even competitors. An expansive view would include future generations and natural entities such as the earth atmosphere, oceans, terrain, other living creatures as part of the stakeholders. In this stakeholder model, the welfare of each is an end in itself, not just a means to enrich or benefit investors. This is in contrast with the traditional concept which puts the interests of the investors/ shareholders as paramount.
There are several definitions of corporate social responsibility, but in general, according to Buchholz (1992), the concept means that a private corporation has responsibilities to society that go beyond the production and sale of goods and services at a profit – that the corporation has a broader constituency than the stockholders alone. Post et al (1996) state that a corporation should be held accountable for any of its actions that affect people, their communities, and their environment.
Further, the corporation relates to society through more than just the marketplace and serves a wider range of human values than the traditional economic values that are dominant in the marketplace.