Realism or Idealism? Corporate social responsibility and the employee stakeholder in the global fast-food Industry
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Royle, T. (2005) ' Realism or Idealism? Corporate social responsibility and the employee stakeholder in the global fast-food Industry '. Business Ethics: A European Review, 14 (1):42-55.
The more extreme forms of employee exploitation usually found in third world or developing countries, often receives a lot of media attention. Much less is said about the exploitation of employees in the industrialised West, where it is often assumed that companies - especially those advocating corporate social responsibility (CSR) - will not only respect employee¿s rights, by adhering to national and supranational law, but will also provide employees with decent pay and working conditions. This paper critically examines this assumption by providing a qualitative international analysis of the employment practices of the McDonald¿s Corporation. The findings suggest that despite being a strong advocate for CSR, low wages, abuses of labour rights and health safety standards and union-busting practices are a feature of employment at McDonald¿s in most countries. In this context the concept of CSR is fundamentally unrealistic and can be seen as little more than a clever employer-driven public relations exercise aimed at avoiding harder forms regulation.