If the number of CSR (corporate social responsibility) conferences, company social reports, standards, norms, principles, and CEO pronouncements is any indicator, then the answer is no: The field is thriving. But if you believe observers like Robert Reich (Supercapitalism) and David Vogel (The Market for Virtue), then you’ll say that the question is moot; that what most call CSR is, and always has been, nothing more than smart management.

What do I, a CSR champion, believe? After laboring for...

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