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The development of governance structures for corporate responsibility

Heiko Spitzeck (Based at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 8 August 2009




This paper seeks to explore patterns of integrating corporate responsibility issues into corporate governance mechanisms and their development over time.


Data from the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index is explored to reveal dominant governance patterns of corporate responsibility issues for the 51 organizations continuously participating in the index since its launch in 2002.


This research reports three major findings: First, there is increasing CEO leadership for the corporate responsibility agenda of the firm. Second, governance structures developed over time are now increasingly making use of corporate responsibility committees. In 2002 about 15 percent of the firms were using a CR committee, the number had increased by 2008 to more than 60 percent. Third, firms with a CR committee in place outperform others in the Corporate Responsibility Index.

Research limitations/implications

While this paper gives a good insight into which structures companies set up to deal with the corporate responsibility agenda, interviews with practitioners would help to understand why this is the case and in which direction the governance of corporate responsibility is expected to evolve.

Practical implications

To understand how companies are governing their corporate responsibility activities is useful for managers seeking to learn from best practices.


This paper is the first empirical research looking at the development of governance structures for corporate responsibility beyond a single case study design.



Spitzeck, H. (2009), "The development of governance structures for corporate responsibility", Corporate Governance, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 495-505.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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