Skilful means – a Buddhist approach to social responsibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle




Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-335
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Responsibility Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between spirituality and corporate social responsibility (CSR) from a Buddhist perspective. The paper addresses critical issues in CSR and highlights how the concept of Buddhist skilful means can be applied to tackle such issues. Skilful means is highlighted among various Buddhist concepts because it represents a context-sensitive and practical approach that can be effectively applied in CSR practice.

The paper reviews scholarly conversations on the challenges faced by CSR in contemporary business management and justifies the application of Buddhist principles, especially skilful means, to tackle such issues. The paper draws upon a wide range of Buddhist teachings and Sutras to propose a Buddhist skilful means approach to CSR.

Studies show that CSR is a highly contextualised term. Its definition and implementation differ in various contexts. Buddhism is set apart from other religions by its flexibility in practice and contextualisation. Further, the non-attachment that sits at the heart of the skilful means allows the exploration of different CSR practices to respond effectively to local contexts.

Practical implications
The paper proposes practical means for CSR practices adopted from a number of Buddhist qualities and principles in response to challenges for the practice of CSR.

Buddhist concepts have yet to be discovered or included in major scholarly conversations because of their contradiction of some well-known Western concepts and theories. Skilful means, including the principle of non-attachment, is a Buddhist approach. This paper argues that skilful means is a good fit with CSR as it has practical applications that can address issues identified in relation to CSR and organisational management practices.

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