Research on Corporate Social Responsibility in International Trade

Theory of Corporate Social Responsibility

Adam Smith once mentioned in the Wealth of Nations that the social responsibility of enterprises is to provide products and services to society, and to maximize corporate profits. In 1923, the British scholar Oleman Shelton put forward the concept of “corporate social responsibility” after a study of American enterprises.

The attention of China’s academic circles on CSR started in 2000, and most of the initial research was based on the discussion of SA8000 certification, and it was only after July 2004 that the theoretical circles began to turn to the study of CSR.

The lack of CSR in China at this stage

(1) The treatment of labor in China’s enterprises is at a low level and there are many problems

In most CSR standards and codes, labor standards usually play an important role. At the present stage, some enterprises and even some industries in China are maintaining production in the simplest labor conditions and the lowest level of wages, and have not reached the international standard of labor treatment at all.

(2) The lack of business management concept, short-term behavior is serious

At the present stage, many domestic enterprises have not set up a people-oriented management concept, taking the pursuit of economic benefits as the ultimate goal of the enterprise, lacking the sense of social responsibility, not taking the improvement of the working conditions and safety and security of employees as the social responsibility of the enterprise, but by virtue of the system and monitoring defects, they simply depress the price of labor, extend the working hours and reduce the welfare of employees to obtain temporary (2) “High profit”.

(3) Labor laws are not rigid enough and violations are common

It should be said that the laws and regulations on the protection of labor rights and interests in China have been relatively perfect. Since 1988, China has issued laws and regulations such as the Provisions on Labor Protection for Female Workers, Provisions on the Scope of Prohibited Work for Female Workers, Provisions on Special Protection for Minor Workers, and Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China, etc. Although the expressions of these provisions are different, they are basically consistent with the requirements of SA8000 and other standards, and some provisions even exceed the requirements of SA8000. For example, in terms of working hours, SA8000 stipulates that the maximum working hours are 48 hours per week, with at least one day off per week and no more than 12 hours of overtime per week; China’s labor law stipulates that the standard working hours are 40 hours per week, with no more than 3 hours of overtime per day and no more than 36 hours of overtime per month, with at least one day off per week, fully reflecting the idea of corporate social responsibility. .

The second part of SA8000 standard clearly states: “The company shall comply with national and other applicable laws and other regulations signed by the company and this standard. When the topics regulated by national and other applicable laws, other regulations signed by the company and this standard are not the same, the most stringent provisions shall be adopted.” With domestic laws being stricter than international standards, the introduction of CSR should not have much impact on our companies against this provision. But what we see is the fact that one after another domestic enterprises are cancelled orders or subject to trade sanctions because of CSR issues. The reason for this is that for a long time, China has lacked sufficient attention to labor laws, and has sacrificed labor laws for economic development, fearing that strict legal constraints would affect the investment environment and scare away foreign investors. For the sake of local economic development, local governments are so hungry to attract investment that they have relaxed the supervision of enterprises, not only giving additional “super national treatment” in project approval, land acquisition and taxation, but also tolerating, conniving and even harboring the illegal acts of enterprises, resulting in the “soft law” tendency of labor law. As a result, the labor law is “soft law” and the phenomenon of illegal employment by enterprises is serious.

The positive role of CSR in improving the protection of labor rights and interests of Chinese enterprises

The CSR movement advocated by the West incorporates labor standards into bilateral or multilateral trade systems, and adopts “social clauses” (i.e., the basic labor conventions of the International Labor Organization are included in trade agreements as labor standards, and when a contracting party violates the agreement, other contracting parties can give trade sanctions under the measures stipulated by WTO) or “labor-specific sanctions”. In addition to reducing the competitive pressure of “cheap labor” from developing countries on developed countries, it actually plays the role of promoting the implementation of labor standards of developed countries and promoting corporate social responsibility in developing countries. The role of corporate social responsibility. At present, the competitive advantage of Chinese enterprises in the international market mainly comes from low cost, which is supported by cheap labor and imperfect working environment, etc. The implementation of CSR in international trade has played an important role in promoting the protection of labor rights and interests for Chinese enterprises.

It can be seen that, although the incorporation of CSR in international trade will increase the operating costs of enterprises and affect their economic efficiency in the short term, in the long run, it is effective in improving the profits of enterprises. According to the “Stakeholder Theory” proposed by Stanford Research Institute in 1963, a company is not a single, self-growing and isolated subject, rather, it has obvious social attributes, and the success of a company depends on the assistance of a series of social stakeholders. The support of consumers, the loyalty and diligence of employees, the trust of customers, and the continuous supply of resources are all indispensable factors for business development. Therefore, companies should not only pursue profit maximization as their only goal, but also take into account the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, staff and society, and do their part to protect and improve their interests.

The CSR movement reflects the direction of social development and is supported by the United Nations and many governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the practice of linking CSR with trade has become an irreversible international trend. It is reported that the German Importers Association has developed a “Social Code of Conduct”, which stipulates that German importers should be authorized by the SA8000 Association to review the social behavior of their suppliers; the United States, Italy and other countries are planning to China’s textile, clothing, toys, footwear production enterprises through the SA8000 standard certification as the basis for selecting suppliers. In order to participate in international competition and stand firm in the market, it is imperative for our enterprises to assume corresponding corporate social responsibility and improve human resource management. Specific measures are suggested as follows: change the business philosophy of enterprises and enhance the awareness of responsibility; integrate existing standards and actively participate in the development of international standards; improve the Labor Law and supporting regulations and strengthen law enforcement; establish a corporate social responsibility evaluation system and enhance corporate transparency construction

Establish an international insurance regulatory system

In conclusion, it is hoped that by improving the level of human resource management, enterprises can legitimately participate in international competition, stand firm in the market and assume corresponding social responsibilities.

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