Corporate Social Responsibility Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2673 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

Microsoft V Google

A Comparative Discussion on CSR at Microsoft and Google

The historical model for America's mega-corporations has centered on profitability but had largely dispatched of any interest in humanitarian, social or community-based issues. The 1990s would mark a point of divergence for many of the new-model corporations that would drive both innovation and corporate growth. As Microsoft and Google rose from rogue startup firms to industry pace-setters, so too would they alter the approach taken by larger corporations toward Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Whether sincere or postured, such companies would make as a central part of their respective identities and declared missions a number of extra-curricular goals which concerned education, environment, charitable donations and innovative programs for advancing societies. The discussion here measures this approach, which would become a major trait of many of the tech firms dominating the economic landscape in the last two decades, as channeled through such self-declaredly ethical firms as Microsoft and Google.

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Term Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility Assignment

Before entering into a more detailed discussion on the approaches taken by such firms as Microsoft and Google toward Corporate Social Responsibility, it is important to identify what is meant by this terminology. CSR generally refers to the prioritization of ethical practices, corporate citizenship and participation in humanitarian endeavors on the part of a privately owned or publicly traded company. The notion of Corporate Social Responsibility does not simply dictate that a company will behave according to a defined and clearly stated code of ethical prerogatives but further that it will perceive and act according to the idea that positive CSR denotes positive functionality and sound operational orientation. This definition comports with our discussion here on Google and Microsoft, both of which have come to concretely attach the imperatives of CSR to broader organizational goals. Indeed, where this impacts efficiency, consumer advocacy, innovation, environmentalism, retention of personnel, public relations and reputation, Corporate Social Responsibility may be said to be one of the determinant factors in a company's long-term viability.

Quite to this point, both Microsoft and Google have vociferously laid claims to their respective contributions to communities and societies as evidence of their dedication to the goals of CSR. Before even proceeding to a discussion on the practical value of CSR, a discussion on Microsoft reinforces the degree to which the software giant views this as an important part of its identity. As our research denotes, Microsoft has spent literally billions on supporting claims of its CSR efforts and on broadcasting the details of these claims before the general public and its key stakeholders. According to EL (2009), "it's estimated that Microsoft spends up to $15 million annually on PR support for its CSR efforts." (EL, 1)

This is because Microsoft, as well its primary charitable appendage in the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, have considered PR to be one of the more effective ways of proliferating information on its environmental and charitable values to other parts of the corporate world. In this way, we may also argue that Microsoft contributes to the perspective of CSR as being an inherent and valuable part of a firms operation, with its dissemination of information on its own efforts suggesting the economic value of sounder corporate social policies.

Google is a slightly younger and, until recently, less permeating firm. However, this has changed significantly in just a decade, with Google coming almost to be seen as synonymous with web searching. The portal to the internet is an extremely powerful controller of information, communication, knowledge and commerce. Therefore, how this company is perceived may have a big impact on the way the public views this highly entrusted and empowering role. Indeed, as its presence throughout the global tech community expands, so too have its efforts and presenting itself as an inherently charitable organization. Here, Google's charitable organizational appendages have begun to mount increasingly impressive numbers in the search engine company's drive to act as a positive and humanitarian corporate citizen. Accordingly, Cockaday (2006) would report that " is the umbrella term for Google's philanthropic efforts, which includes the work of the Google Foundation and some of Google's internal corporate philanthropy. The organisation focuses on several areas including global poverty, health, energy and the environment and has made over $7m (£4m) in investments and grants to date." (p. 1)

Still, both Microsoft and Google have found a great many challenges to their declared value systems though as they have entered into a complex global marketplace. For example, Microsoft "has recently introduced an intriguing not for profit plan called Microsoft Unlimited Potential. The goal is to at the very least, double the number of people who are currently online by 2015 from 1 to 2 billion, by ensuring that the poorest people in various nations have access to computers." (Amaria, 1) This has required it to partner with nations such as China, which is frequently accused of widespread human rights violation.

A similar dilemma has confronted Google With respect to that criticism, we consider the claims of the most prominent group working in this capacity; Google-Watch. The online watchdog is devoted to deconstructing the impact that the search engine has on the patterns of web usage. Quite certainly, this impact is nothing short of dominant. As Google-Watch (2006) finds, "the privacy struggle, which includes both the old issue of consumer protection and this new issue of government surveillance, means that the question of how Google treats the data it collects from users becomes critical. Given that Google is so central to the web, whatever attitude it takes toward privacy has massive implications for the rest of the web in general, and for other search engines in particular." (Google-Watch, 1)

Because of this position as a leader and singular force in the industry, Google has sustained much criticism for failing to establish a standard that meets the approval of more protective privacy advocates. So is this demonstrated by the privacy debates that came with Google as it traveled to Chinese markets. This attempt and the controversy produced by it demonstrate that difficult place that the company is uniquely in at the moment. From its own perspective, Google's position as a gatekeeper for knowledge and information has required it to face complicated questions that are doing nothing short of defining the way peoples and publics use the internet. However, this power is checked by the ideological and practical implications of working in myriad different governmental systems and cultures such as has been Google's more recent preoccupation. Here, its highly prized philosophy must come face-to-face with stalwart politics and socioeconomic alignment and, as we find in China, must be somewhat compromised in order to answer at least to the company's overarching ethical imperative.

Namely, Google's ideology, which sees it dedicated to a single more powerful and thorough portal through which to navigate the internet, places it in a spot of unparalleled challenge, even further observable as it attempts to enter the global market with consistency and mutual cultural/political respect. The relentless rise in internet use in China is forcing a redefinition of the World Wide Web. Censorship and content filtering have increasingly become the preferred strategies of this government over the self-defeatist notion of denying internet access to citizens. The result, therefore, has been an adoption of a similar position by Google.

The controversy in China has been highlighted most recently by the groundbreaking decision of the U.S. firm. During recent years, Chinese citizens have registered extensive objections to the observation that Google, the world's leading search engine provider and a major player in open-source technology development, is substantially filtered by Chinese government agencies. Preventing access to websites containing all manner of objectionable material, such as anti-Chinese political rhetoric, popular resistance to the central government, pornographic content or religious indoctrination, the Chinese had rendered Google a slower, more ineffective and therefore popularly declining service.

According to China CSR (2010) "Google's motto has always been 'Do No Evil' and the company is in a tough position as it balances the needs of its shareholders with its mission to ensure safe services for all its users. To this end, Drummond states: 'We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.'" (China CSR, 1) This suggests that for both nations such as China and firms such as Google, the ambition of spreading technology globally as a social imperative calls often for compromise of values. In Google's case, the determination has been made that it would be more socially responsible to ensure some level of access to knowledge and information to the Chinese people where at all possible than simply balking at providing any such service due to governmental limitations. Here, we can see that the approach which might be viewed as aligning with CSR principles may vary depending upon cultural or philosophical intricacies as with China. Here, we can see that these intricacies require pragmatism from a company such as Google or Microsoft.

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How to Cite "Corporate Social Responsibility" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Corporate Social Responsibility.  (2010, September 13).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Corporate Social Responsibility."  13 September 2010.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Corporate Social Responsibility."  September 13, 2010.  Accessed January 26, 2021.