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The perversity of business case approaches to CSR : Nuancing and extending the critique of Nijhof & Jeurissen

Lars Moratis (Faculty of Management Sciences, Open University, Heerlen, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 2 September 2014




The purpose of this paper is to provide a reaction to the paper of Nijhof and Jeurissen in IJSSP on limitations of business case approaches to CSR by nuancing some of their critique as well as extending it by addressing a more fundamental flaw in such approaches. In addition, the paper aims to also provide a case of a company that integrates various approaches to CSR into its business model that goes beyond the CSR business case.


The paper both has a conceptual approach through drawing on critical studies and theoretical arguments on CSR as well as an empirical approach through examining the integrative sustainability business model developed by the company Patagonia, a recognized and innovative CSR leader.


The paper argues that the “cherry-picking argument” by Nijhof and Jeurissen on the limitations of the business case approach to CSR does not reflect the idiosyncrasy of the CSR concept. Also, their glass ceiling metaphor may not be well-chosen. Second, stage models of CSR maturity that detach ethics from CSR development should be revised to include these, also from a credibility perspective. Third, the theory of the firm perspective on CSR may be adjusted to capture the reality of new market relations that companies pioneering with sustainability business models are developing.


The paper formulates a new critique on business case approaches to CSR, adding to the stream of critical studies on CSR and provides an example of a company that pioneers an integrative approach to CSR.



The author wishes to thank an anonymous reviewer for his/her helpful comments and suggestions.


Moratis, L. (2014), "The perversity of business case approaches to CSR : Nuancing and extending the critique of Nijhof & Jeurissen", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 34 No. 9/10, pp. 654-669.



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