When leaders think about adopting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice, where should they start? Ryan Raffaelli, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, suggests that they should look closely at CSR practices that exist outside their organization.

CSR practices come in two basic flavors, according to Raffaelli and Mary Ann Glynn, professor of management and organization at Boston College, who co-authored a new study on CSR. Some practices—a charity walk-a-thon, say, or...

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