The external world is creating a series of ‘shocks’ for organisations, governments and individuals. These include the impact of climate change and the increasing costs for energy. The challenge for organisations is to develop new governance mechanisms to accommodate these external shocks. This article investigates the potential for corporate social responsibility to act as a catalyst in generating these new governance mechanisms. It sketches out two regulatory frameworks of corporate law and corporate governance that may create the conditions for the emergence of effective systems of corporate social responsibility. These frameworks of regulation are formed around an economic analysis of corporations and around a constitutional view of the corporation as a site for a decision-making process centred on the principles of deliberation, accountability and contestability. Each of these frameworks contributes to our understanding of corporate social responsibility, and each offers some glimmers of hope. But there are also good reasons to be sceptical about whether either will create the conditions for the emergence of effective systems of corporate social responsibility. This scepticism about corporate social responsibility should, though, be tempered by recognition of the complexity of the problem of generating the new forms of governance that we, as a community, need to accommodate the challenges that we face.