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Corporate Social Responsibility at McDonald’s – Part 1


McDonald’s Corporation is the largest fast food chain in the world, serving more than 60 million customers in different countries around the globe (Mieth, 2007, p.3). The primary sale of the company comprises cheeseburger, hamburger, chicken, and soft drinks, desserts and wraps (Love, 1995). The company mainly operates its restaurants through franchise, affiliates or corporation thus the revenue of the company is received from rent, franchise fees and sales-in-company operated restaurants (Schlosser, 2001, p.78). Over last three years, the revenue of the company has increased approximately 27 percent, along with 9 percent growth in its operating income (Hess, 2010, p.64). Company strives very hard to fulfill its corporate social responsibility, as company recognizes legal, social, environmental, and ethical issues in its business practices. With fastest growth in its franchises around the globe, the company has been criticized for its business practices such as menu, diet, nutrition, environment degradation, and human resource issues (Paetzold, 2010). Since its global expansion, the company has been facing tremendous criticism in terms of its diet and nutrients used in menu and advertising of its menu. Moreover, the company is also accused of using political influences to increase its profitability at the expense of health and environment (Mcelhaney et al., 2009, p.114). Recently, the company has announced 5 percent increase in its total sale for the year 2010 (McDonalds, 2011). This growth in the global sale of the company provides motivation to carry out the research to identify the business performance, practice and culture within the McDonald’s in terms of its corporate social responsibility. In this respect, the paper aims to identify and analyze the business practice of the McDonald’s Company. In addition, it also explains and evaluates the problematic areas within the company while highlighting inadequacy in the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility of McDonald’s

The term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the corporations’ conscience, compliance of social duties and performance for the sustainable business (Kotler & Lee, 2005). Thus, CSR within any organization shows corporate-self regulations incorporated into business model of the organization. In this regard, today it is seen that every organization formulates its CSR policy as built-in that monitors the active compliance with the ethical, social, legal and environmental standards (Schwartz, 2011). The need for applying corporate social responsibility and theoretical basis of the CSR lies in the moral and ethical theories such as Kant and Bentham theories. Moreover, there are other theories of CSR, which are denoted as instrumental, political, integrative and ethical theories. Each type of theory has used their own standards to define the needs and objectives of implementing CSR in the organization. Since this paper aims to identify the problematic areas of CSR within McDonald’s Corporation, therefore, ethical theories are more appropriate to make the basis for the problems related to CSR in the organization such as normative stakeholder theories, universal rights, sustainable development, and the common approach. Thus, in this paper, the problematic areas and CSR commitment of the McDonald’s will be analyzed using ethical approach. We offer best assignment writing service to all the students who need assistance in their academic task

a. Kant Moral Theory

Kant in his moral theory has signified different elements as important such as respect, dignity, human rights, and protection to minority (Rendtorff, 2009). According to theory of Kant, who has related different elements to the philosophy of morality in society, it is found that implementing the CSR can be immoral while making CSR as essential for the organization and this may lead to moral problems in which the implementation of CSR can lead violating the moral rights of corporation and their owners. Kantian views this implementation of CSR by organization as deprivation of moral human rights therefore, according to the theory organizations must be free to choose whether to contribute in the welfare of the society or not (Miller & Jentz, 2009). In this way, there is lack of approach defining if profit making and economic perspective of organization implies any ethical or moral standards. In addition, unlike utilitarianism theory, Kant has rejected the idea of justifying the harm to other for the good of majority or society (Kotler & Lee, 2005). In relation to CSR, Kant argues that an action to ethical perspective must be more than only self-interest and benefits of majority. Therefore, actions of individual or organization is rather significant than consequences of the action. 

b. Bentham’s Theory of Utilitarianism and Consequentialism

Bentham’s theory of Utilitarianism or Consequentialism, unlike Kant’s moral theory, emphasizes on the maximum utility and happiness for greater number of individual as moral act (Renouard, 2011). In this respect, he stresses upon the consequences on reflection about morality, as according to utilitarianism, it is consequential perspective focusing on the results of an action and it does not matter what the intention is of that action (Miller & Jentz, 2009, p.64). In relation to CSR, the theory has favored to the philosophy of economic choices that concentrates on the economic growth. Therefore, according to the theory, social ethics refers to maximization of the well-being of people and accurate growth of society (Cross & Miller, 2008). However, utilitarianism has been criticized in relation to CSR because utilitarianism leads the moral justification for the occurrence of the profit making and maximization of economic value. Having these two different theoretical perspectives can be effective and helpful in examining and evaluating the CSR within the McDonald’s Corporation, because these theories will help in understanding the business practice of the company and will use them to identify the CSR issues within the corporation.


This paper aims to identify and evaluate the business practice of the McDonald’s in relation to corporate social responsibility conducted by the company. It is found that CSR is an important element for any organization, as it helps the organization to create relationship with society and consider the benefit of majority along with benefit of organization. In literature, there are two types of ethics theory concerning to CSR such as Kant and Bentham theory. Upon examining and evaluating the business practice of McDonald’s in the light of theories, it is found that there are problematic areas in the operational and management process of the company, which cause serious issues to company related to CSR. The problematic areas identified within the McDonald’s include environment practice, workplace practice, and advertising practice, manufacturing practice, community and society business practice, and ethical governance practice. In this regard, it has found that company has been facing numerous CSR issues and therefore, has been scandalized and sued for manipulating children through advertising, providing unhygienic, and unhealthy foods and meals. Concerning the theoretical perspectives of CSR, it can be concluded that all for profit-organizations strive to gain maximum profit and this act of organization is justifiable but considering the ethical and social values as part corporate governance can more benefit the organization. Therefore, regarding the CSR issues of McDonald’s, recommendations, are given to improve the practice of CSR including sustainable business environment, equal employee opportunity, advertising practices, and stakeholder engagement.


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