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Professional Standards Research

Meta-regulation: Legal accountability for corporate social responsibility?

In this chapter from The New Corporate Accountability: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Professor Christine Parker looks at how the law can hold businesses accountable for corporate social responsibility.

Parker argues that it is possible to imagine – and even see partial examples of – such legal meta-regulation. But because this requires adequate recognition of the procedural and substantive rights of customers, employees, local communities and other stakeholders, it may have little to do with most current business and government “corporate social responsibility” initiatives.

In this chapter, Professor Parker:

  • Sets out how it is possible for meta-regulating law to hold companies accountable for their responsibilities, and how this relates to the legal, non-legal and quasi-legal governance mechanisms currently at work
  • Examines the critique that law that attempts to meta-regulate corporate responsibility will allow businesses to avoid the conflict between self-interest and social values, and therefore avoid accountability
  • Argues that law or regulation that falls into this critique does not fit the criteria defined in the paper for the meta-regulation of corporate social responsibility.

About the author

Professor Christine Parker has conducted extensive research on business responses to legal regulation and social responsibilities, the impact of regulatory enforcement on business, internal corporate responsibility systems, lawyers’ ethics, and the regulation of lawyers.  Her books include The Open Corporation: Self-Regulation and Corporate Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Inside Lawyers’ Ethics with Adrian Evans (Cambridge University Press, 2007 and 2014).
 
Professor Parker teaches legal ethics and regulatory enforcement and compliance at Monash University, and conducts research for, and provides policy advice to government and regulatory agencies. She is General Editor of the journal Legal Ethics, and co-chair of the US Law and Society Association’s Collaborative Research Network on Regulatory Governance.