Some of the world's most successful companies, including Shell, Nike, Union Carbide and Exxon, operating entirely within the law have experienced devastating public relations disasters due to negative public perceptions of their social responsibility. These perceptions have hurt the reputation and credibility of these companies,and correspondingly shareholder value.
The debate over global corporate citizenship revolves around a number of inter-linked issues, including: a) Corporate 'purpose' and objectives - e.g., is shareholder value the goal of a company or simply the means to achieve a higher purpose? b) Corporate governance and accountability - e.g., what are the responsibilities and obligations of companies to societies? c) Incentives - e.g., how can corporate objectives as well as environmental and societal objectives be more closely aligned? d) National and global governance - e.g., how can national governments and global institutions unleash the power of companies to achieve societal and environmental goals?