This study aims to point out and try to describe the (missing) link between “responsible practises” (e.g. CSR – corporate social responsibility) and social ontology. This critical gap in the literature may conceivably be a stumbling block to responsible business/political/societal action and its theoretical/empirical understanding and effectiveness; therefore, we can legitimately ask ourselves whether a social ontology-focused approach can be considered relevant to this field of study.
As the role of social ontology has presumably been under-explored despite its foundational importance, a set of germane and adjoining themes has been identified, which can be possibly included in future research projects. An overview of relevant literature is provided, and further analysis and desk research can be drawn from the key notions identified.
It is argued that social ontology – especially the underlying debate in terms of shared agency, collective responsibility and collective intentionality – can be an innovative and promising perspective within business ethics studies. Potentially, CSR management and/or similar responsible practices can re-appraised in similar terms.
This study specifically focuses on some selected key aspects related to the ontological status of social collectives (e.g. groups and organisations), trying to recall the main trajectories/directions of the relevant arguments and debates. More empirical research/pilot case studies validating the approach presented here will be required.
Building on the findings of this study, new emergent research methodologies/theoretical tools will make it possible to explore not so much the ways “responsible” practises are defined (indeed, there seems to be a broad consensus about it), but rather how they are socially constructed, implemented and carried out.
This theoretical work can potentially facilitate a comprehensive inter-/multi-/pluri-disciplinary understanding of the novel links explored, namely, between responsibility, social ontology and the underlying longstanding philosophical issues.
The novel thematic approach outlined in this study can challenge and widen the mainstream approaches about CSR management, e.g. stakeholder management and engagement, social accounting and reporting, SRI (socially responsible investment).
This article is published under the Joint Project “P.Re.Si” (2015 Programme) between University of Verona (Department of Human Sciences) and Svolta srl.
Arrigoni, A. (2019), "Exploring the “relational” link between responsibility and social ontology: Ethical, organisational, institutional dimensions of shared agency, collective responsibility, collective intentionality", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 31-46. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGR-10-2018-0047Download as .RIS
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