Image of the Occupy Nottingham Protest

July 11, 2012, by Maggie

CSR dynamics and context

One of the most intriguing things about CSR is how it changes and how it is contextualised.  Jean-Pascal Gond and I explored these themes in the ‘Introduction’ to our Routledge Major Text Corporate Social Responsibility (2011), reproduced in ICCSR Research Paper (59 – 2011).

Following up this interest, we included a stream on CSR dynamics and context in the ICCSR’s 10th Anniversary Conference on CSR FuturesWe invited papers about how CSR reflects contexts and also adapts from them, how it emerges as a global management concept and governance concept, yet also reflects local and national business systems and their business–society agendas. 

The selected nine papers can be divided into firm, national, and analytical perspectives.

At the level of the firm, Wickert, Scherer and Spence’s paper compared CSR in MNCs and SMEs.  It offered a conceptual framework to explain why larger firms tend to be stronger communicators of CSR, while smaller firms tend to be stronger implementers of CSR; a theoretical basis for ‘size-aware’ research on CSR; and an analysis of the implications of cost and firm-size related antecedents for different forms of CSR.

Turning to national perspectives, Black on Australia, Carson on Norway and Cerletti on Myanmar all investigated the changing balances of new global, institutional CSR and the respective national CSR systems.  A paper by Amaeshi, Rajwani and Adegbite, explored the comparative significance of ‘institutional voids’ for CSR in developing countries.  

Other papers brought analytical interpretations.  Kazmi offered a social constructivist view of CSR language, rationalities and world views.  Grosser presented a feminist perspective on pluralism within business society governance.  Orellana, reflecting a legal perspective, addressed corporate complicity with human rights abuses.

More broadly, Kazmi, Leca and Naccache’s paper on ‘CSR and the new spirit of capitalism’ investigated how managerial CSR literature reflects a new “ideology that justifies people’s commitment to capitalism, and which renders this commitment attractive”.  Drawing on Boltanski and Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism and Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, they examine the association of CSR with legitimisation of capitalism in the context of dynamic social values and expectations of business both at the rhetorical and performative levels.  They conclude that the managerial CSR literature is not simply ‘green-washing’ as there is interest in making capitalism more responsible.  Yet they observe also that the literature does not offer a compelling case for bringing about change because it does not provide adequate incentives and tools for change management within corporations.

Overall, these papers reflected a real maturing of the CSR research field, in the deployment of robust analytical CSR frameworks and the engagement with CSR through more broadly based analytical lenses. Thanks, colleagues, for your contributions.

By Professor Jeremy Moon, Director of the ICCSR, Nottingham University Business School

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Posted in THEMES in Better Business