Rethinking Corporate Social Engagement: Lessons From Latin America

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Rethinking Corporate Social Engagement: Lessons From Latin America
By Lester M. Salamon
Kumarian Press, 2010
176 pp. $21.95
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At the behest of the Inter-American Foundation (a U.S. government entity focused on grass-roots economic development), the nonprofit guru Salamon surveyed the corporate social responsibility movement in Latin America. Essentially a reprint of that consulting report, this primer, loaded with clear snapshots of cutting-edge cases, focuses on five countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Overall, Salamon finds that leading Latin American firms are adapting modern practices of corporate social responsibility -- aligning their philanthropy with their business goals, forming partnerships with government entities and nongovernmental organizations, and including local communities in business decisions. Yet corporate participation is still spotty and too often focused more on public relations than on meaningful reform. Nonetheless, Salamon is "cautiously optimistic" that corporate social engagement is more than a passing fad.