In 1991, Archie Carroll introduced the pyramid of corporate social responsibility. This model helped crystallize people's understanding of corporate social responsibility, or "CSR." CSR is the general idea that businesses should do more than just make money. They owe the larger community something.
The pyramid of corporate social responsibility helps people understand what their businesses owe to others, what form that ethical duty takes, and how different aspects of it fit together. It is called a pyramid because the lower levels are the most basic and serve as a foundation for the upper levels. Just as you have to put the foundation in place for a house before you put the roof in place, you have to put the lower levels of the pyramid in place before you build the upper/ later levels. The foundation of the pyramid is a firm's "economic responsibilities." You have to make a profit before you can fulfill your other responsibilities. The second level is your "legal responsibilities." You have to abide by the law. The third level is your "ethical responsibilities," and the fourth is your "philanthropic responsibilities," or being a good "corporate citizen." (All of the terms quoted come from Carroll's original article.)