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Critical perspectives on strategic CSR: what is sustainable value co-creation orientation?

Frederick Ahen (Researcher, Department of Marketing and International Business, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Peter Zettinig (University Research Fellow, Department of Marketing and International Business, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

critical perspectives on international business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This purpose of this paper is to integrate corporate responsibility (CR) doctrine into corporate strategy by problematizing existing notions of traditional corporate social responsibility. We provide a theoretical and empirical basis for the proposition that the bridge between CR and corporate irresponsibility is the embeddedness of strategic decisions in ethically oriented corporate practices toward sustainable value co-creation.

Design/methodology/approach

Analysis was performed by meta-theoretical and economic philosophical approaches. The contemporary trends which have led to the institutionalization of sustainability questions, are explained. Special attention is paid to the historical, cultural and the international institutional context within which organizational culture becomes saturated with deviance.

Findings

The main thrust is that competitive advantage, legitimacy for survival and success of the international firm in the 21st century hinges on innovative value co-creation that meets sustainability pressures and institutional expectations.

Research limitations/implications

The research approach opens itself to debate. No generalizability claims are made but the propositions and conceptual framework seek to direct the CR discourse to engage seriously with cooperative investments for sustainable value creation.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the debate on CR, global sustainability and the role of international firms in society. It offers clarity in the confusion and fills a theoretical gap through a novel conceptualization of strategic corporate responsibility. Here, consumer, environmental and institutional orientation rather than producer orientation form the basis of analysis on value co-creation.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The previous version of this paper was presented as a peer-reviewed competitive paper at the Academy of International Business UK/Ireland conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2010. The authors thank the two anonymous reviewers, the session chair Dorota Piaskowska, Ph.D., University College Dublin and the international colleagues for their constructive comments. The authors would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers of CPoIB for their comments. We gratefully acknowledge the generous grant support from the Turku School of Economics, University of Turku Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Matti Koivurinta Foundation, Liikesivistysrahasto and Stiftelsen för Handelsutbildning i Åbo, Finland.

Citation

Ahen, F. and Zettinig, P. (2015), "Critical perspectives on strategic CSR: what is sustainable value co-creation orientation?", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 92-109. https://doi.org/10.1108/cpoib-03-2012-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited