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Lesson Plan: For Teachers - Corporate Social Responsibility: Illusion or Reality?

Business Studies, Political Science
2 lessons
To explore government regulation of business and corporate social responsibility
Students will explore and debate the advantages and disadvantages of corporate social responsibility versus increased government regulation.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to define corporate social responsibility (CSR) based on their prior knowledge. Record their thoughts on chart paper. Have students give examples of CSR initiatives they are aware of.

Ask students to reflect on the issue of CSR using these guiding questions:

What are some of the reasons corporations would want to have CSR programs?

What are some of the factors or reasons that might work against CSR programs?

Do CSR programs protect consumers and/or investors? How?

Raise the point that some people suggest that government regulation of corporations is a better approach to corporate behaviour than relying on corporate social responsibility, since corporations exist to make a profit, and sometimes CSR can work against earnings. Others suggest that businesses are perfectly capable of coming up with company- and industry-specific CSR programs and codes of ethics, which are less expensive to operate and enforce than government programs. Ask students to respond to these positions.

Outline the Opportunity


Divide the class into groups. Present the following statements:

"Government should regulate businesses more heavily and more closely monitor their activities"

"Government should promote CSR programs so that businesses can regulate themselves using criteria that fit their organizations and at a lower cost than a government program"

Direct students to the topic Stranger than Fiction: The Bre-X Gold Scandal on the CBC Digital Archives website and have them view the clips "Gold fever", "Walsh clears the air", "Strathcona report confirms scam", "'Setting New Standards'", "RCMP isn't laying charges", and "Felderhof's day in court?".  From the information they gather, they will make notes that do their choice of the following: support statements a. and b., support statement a. but not statement b., support statement b. but not statement a., or oppose both statements.

Groups should then turn their notes into a clear summary of their positions.

Revisit and Reflect


Have each group present its position, and offer a brief opportunity for rebuttal after each group has presented. Moderate the discussion to be sure that students stay on topic and keep their statements impersonal.




Create a board game that gives an employee an opportunity to rise to the top of a large multinational company. What are the ups and downs of climbing the corporate ladder? What events from outside the company might affect a player's progress?

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