Sunday, April 28, 2013

Arianna Backer on The Japanese Welfare State and Corporate Social Responsibility

Arianna Backer, a master's candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, has written an interesting paper on the relationship between expenditures by states on welfare related programs and corporate social responsibility expenditures by enterprises: The Japanese Welfare State: Private Social Expenditure in the Context of Corporate Social Responsibility: the Implications of its Rise in Relation to Public Social Spending
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

She suggests the way in which globalization has produced a polycentric space within which states' welfare program expenditures may no longer invariably be related in any meaningful way to private expenditures on welfare related programs.  The reason, of course, is that enterprises operate both within the state and outside of it.  Globalization has provided a governance and operational space in which enterprises are subject to governance frameworks at once connected with but autonomous of the governance frameworks of states. While the focus is on Japan, the implications are far broader.

The paper may be accessed HERE.  The abstract follows.

The Japanese Welfare State

Private Social Expenditure in the Context of Corporate Social Responsibility: the Implications of its Rise in Relation to Public Social Spending


As governments become poorer or less willing to tax, or as policy about what government ought to do changes, the expectation grows that the private sector will take on what had been the provision of public services. Social spending in Japan—both public and private—as is the case with other East Asian countries, is very low compared to similar OECD nations. The years between 1990 and 2005, however, saw a relatively large jump in the amount of voluntary private social expenditure, even though the Japanese national commitment to social policy went relatively unchanged or increased slightly. This is in conflict with the fact that public and private social spending are negatively correlated (Campbell 2007). Through historical analysis and process tracing, this study sets out to discover what other factors might explain the increase in voluntary private expenditure. The findings are that in addition to variables identified by previous research, the emergence of international corporate social responsibility norms championed by reputable international governance institutions like the ISO, UN and the OECD should be considered as a causal factor, but has been largely ignored by earlier scholarly investigations.

The paper thus analyzes a curious but powerful development, one with significant governance effect.  The paper notes the evolution of corporate social responsibility within a traditional welfare state assumptions. Corporate social responsibility produces a set of incentives toward welfare expenditures by private enterprises, not because of its harmonization effect on states and their welfare policies but precisely because it is good for business. Japanese CSR in particular is grounded on principles of charity.  But its effect in Japan produces a situation in which corporate charity mimics the patterns of public welfare expenditure.  Taken together, these cumulative mark the rise of parallel systems of public and private welfare expenditure.  They pare parallell but unconnected, autonomous precisely because they respond to different governance systems.  Japanese welfare system expenditures taklen together with corporate charity suggest that within Japan spending by public and private enterprises are not only uncoordinated, they respond to distinct frameworks with logics that are not necessarily congruent.  Here, at last, one can "see" the effects of polycentricity, and not just in a weak givernance zone where the usual pattern suggests a quasi colonial intervention, but instead deep within one of the most developed states on the globe.

No comments: