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Carroll (1991) organized different corporate social responsibilities as a

four-layered pyramid model and called it the pyramid of responsibilities.

The four different responsibilities - economical, legal, ethical and
philanthropic are the layers of the pyramid.

According to Carroll and Buchholtz (2003), the pyramid of

responsibilities should be seen as a whole and the different parts should
not be separated. To be profitable as a company, minimize cost and
maximize sales or make sensible strategic decisions are at the base
of economic responsibilities. Economic performance is required by
the society. The second layer is the legal responsibilities and it is also
required by society. In these responsibilities companies are expected to
obey the law, because the law mirrors show the society regards as
accepted or unaccepted. The difference of the ethical
responsibilities from the first two responsibilities is that the ethical
responsibilities are not required but expected by society. To assert
ethical leadership, avoid questionable practices or operate above the
minimum standard of the law could be examples for the ethical
responsibilities. The philanthropic responsibilities stand at the top
of the pyramid and to be a good corporate citizen and improve the
quality of life for the society is the aim of these responsibilities.
Corporate contributions, to support the community by providing
programs or engagement in volunteerism can be example for the
philanthropic responsibilities. To some extent the philanthropic
responsibilities are desired and expected by the society.
A stakeholder model is represented by the Pyramid of CSR where the
different stakeholders are affected by the different responsibilities. If the
business is not profitable Economic responsibilities will directly affect
employees and owners. Legal responsibilities are vital to the owners, but
it is also necessary in the relation with employees and consumer
stakeholders. Ethical responsibilities impact on all stakeholders, but
most frequently they engage consumers and employees. The major
effect of the Philanthropic responsibilities are on the community, but
there is also impact on the employees since the company’s philanthropic
performance influences the employees’ morale.

Pinkston and Carroll (1994) carried out a survey among top managers in
591 U.S. subsidiaries of multinational chemical companies with
headquarters in England, Germany, Sweden, Japan, U.S., Switzerland
and France. CSR Quest (2006) emphasized that the findings from the
survey confirmed Carroll’s pyramid model, but Sweden and Germany
are shown as exceptions, where legal responsibilities were ranked the
highest priority followed by economic, ethical and philanthropic aspects.

Reference: Master thesis by Rashad N. Ayyubzada, University of

Stirling, Management Department, 2012 September.