The term responsibility is defined in various ways. Some people define it as the responsibility of business to perform its basis economic function of producing and supplying products and services in the most efficient manner so as to maximise profits. Others define it as the obligation to consider the interests of society while performing its economic function. Still others view it as the philanthropic and charitable activities to promote education, health, employment, rural development and other social causes.
In fact, social responsibility implies responsibility to society beyond the basic economic responsibility of efficiency and profitability. As an economic agent of society, a business enterprise must use its economic power to protect and promote public interest and social values.
Social responsibility transcends legal obligations and it is on a voluntary basis for the genuine benefit of the society. In the words of Ducker, “Social responsibility requires managers to consider whether their action is likely to promote the public good, to advance the basic beliefs of our society, to contribute to its stability, strength and harmony.”
The concept of ‘Social Responsibility’ needs to be differentiated from social obligations and social responsiveness. Social obligations imply the typical activities of an organisation directed in response to market forces and internal aspirations. Such behavior has bend criticised as being too narrow and insufficient for the long-term success and survival of most organizations. Social responsibility is much broader as it requires an organisation to meet the expectations, norms and values of the society. Social responsibility relates to current issues whereas ‘social responsiveness’ is anticipatory in nature. A socially responsive organisation is expected to anticipate changing or emerging social problems and respond to them.