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An examination of the nature and application among the nanotechnologies industries of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of safeguarding the environment and human health


Researcher Name: Lori Frater, Chris Groves, Bob Lee, Elen Stokes (BRASS)

The aim of the research was to assess the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a voluntary and self-regulatory approach by industry itself to tackle these potential risks. The project assessed the potential impact of CSR as a tool for the nanotechnologies industry to implement adaptive governance and to address any associated potential environmental and human health hazards.

Aims of Project

The main objective of the project was to evaluate what motivates or inhibits industry to adopt responsible practices by applying a societal approach to risk assessment and risk management based on CSR principles. This research will assess the extent and effectiveness of current CSR practices within the industry and whether, as a tool, it might be able to assist in controlling the divergence between innovation and risk, whilst work on standard setting and formulating appropriate regulation continues.


UK Government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)




September 2008 – June 2009


Quantitative and qualitative content analysis of 78 company websites, plus semi-structured interviews with 15 company representatives.

Key Findings

The full final report for the project can be downloaded here.


Frater, L. Groves C, Lee, R. G. & Stokes, E. (2011) “Is There Room at the Bottom for CSR? Corporate Social Responsibility and Nanotechnology in the UK?”, Journal of Business Ethics, 101(4), pp. 525-552. ISSN: 0167-4544

Groves, C. (2011, forthcoming) “Public Engagement and Nanotechnology in the UK: restoring trust or building robustness?”, Science and Public Policy, 38(10) (available via publisher’s FastTrack as of July 2011). ISSN 0302-342

Groves, C. (2010) ”The public perception of nanotechnology: is it all about risk?”, Nanotechnology Perceptions, 6(2), pp. 85-94. ISSN 1660-6795