Both the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are foundational to the field of Business & Society (B&S). However, efforts to define and…
Both the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are foundational to the field of Business & Society (B&S). However, efforts to define and operationalize this construct have been undermined by definitional discord arising from the disparate sense-making assumptions and methods of competing North American and European research traditions. Scholars wedded to the North American research tradition have striven mightily to uncover “objective” evidence in support of the instrumental proposition that IF corporate executives were to invest more resources to enhance social and environmental performance, THEN the firm’s burnished brand image, reputation, and perceived legitimacy would elevate the firm’s long-term financial performance as well. However, the inconclusive statistical record has failed to move many corporate decision makers beyond the minimal social and environmental investments needed to create the impression of compliance with societal expectations. The proliferation of corporate scandals and the pattern of settling legal disputes without admitting guilt are also troubling. The muted impact of B&S research based on proving the instrumental proposition has prompted a new generation of European B&S scholars to explore the sense-making potential of the European research tradition, which seeks meaning and normative validity within a pluralist crucible of community discourse. This contested communicative space is filled with paradoxical tensions and contending stakeholder voices and narratives. With respect to CSR, this discursive sense-making process is animated by an aspiration toward constructing shared meanings that can guide a search for more collaborative approaches to addressing systemic challenges via stakeholder engagement and experiments in multisector collaborative problem-solving. Rather than try to scientifically “prove” a fact-based pre-existing condition, this approach embraces “an emergent and mediated form of strategic ambiguity” to keep open the possibility of “fulfilling often conflicting instrumental and social/ethical imperatives at the same time” (Guthey & Morsing, 2014, p. 556). This discourse-based search for shared meanings in support of a convergence of economic, social, and environmental values frames CSR as an aspirational cocreative process rather than as a pyramid of normative assertions loosely grounded on a search for validation in efforts to find correlations (or causation) within an assortment of “objective” facts. The discursive approach to constructing CSR also highlights the relevance of the emergence of institutional innovations that enable network interactions to address shared systemic problems. Ultimately, CSR may be expressed as a form of network governance seeking to assure the sustainable outcome of system health and vitality across micro-, meso-, and meta-levels of thought and action.
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the third special issue on corporate social responsibility communication (CSRCom). In this editorial, the authors take the…
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the third special issue on corporate social responsibility communication (CSRCom). In this editorial, the authors take the opportunity to share the latest knowledge, research and insights on CSRCom as presented at the third International CSR Communication Conference held in Ljubljana 17-19 September 2015.
Many efforts have been made to map the research field of CSRCom. Two major ontological streams seem to stand out in CSRCom research: functionalism vs constructivism. In this editorial, the authors describe each of them, address the factors which contributed to their implementation within the CSRCom field and provide a rationale for bridging the two approaches.
The papers selected for the issue demonstrate that recent studies of CSRCom are anchored both in functionalism and constructivism but that the attention towards using CSRCom in organisational processes of collaboration and networking is growing. This growth is aligned to the changes in the wider social environment. In this editorial, the authors are bridging both approaches and relating them to the most recent developments in CSR and CSRCom.
This paper concludes that a growing body of empirical studies contributes to an increased understanding of how both functionalistic and constitutive perspectives are relevant and provide key insights for communication managers. It also accentuates the idea that the ability to expand the understanding of CSRCom from that of a means to an end to one, according to which communication represents an important end/goal in itself, that can play a crucial role in dealing with the growing complexity of CSR processes.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is presented as a series of evolving stages characterized by shifting attitudes and behaviors by business firms, their stakeholders…
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is presented as a series of evolving stages characterized by shifting attitudes and behaviors by business firms, their stakeholders, and public policies. Five major phases of CSR are described: CSR-1: Corporate Social Trusteeship; CSR-2: Corporate Social Responsiveness; CSR-3 Corporate-Business Ethics; CSR-4: Corporate Global Citizenship; and CSR-5: Toward a Millennial Future. Accompanying the first four CSR phases are the principal drivers and policy instruments that have activated those four CSR stages. An evolving set of generational values and attitudes about CSR — from Silent Generation to Baby Boomers to Gen-Xers to today’s Millennials — reveal the continuing development and relevance of — and the major questions and challenges about — Corporate Social Responsibility in the Millennial future.
A certain Rural District Council has recently passed a resolution which included the following phrase:—“This Council views with alarm the increase in the cost of the County Library service . …” The Chairman of the Council, in proposing the resolution is reported as having said:—“I am not objecting to the library service itself, but to the terrific cost of running it. This item ought not to be increased any further. It is not right that ratepayers should be asked to pay for people to read Forever Amber and Our Dearest Emma. It would be all right if the service was all educational, but it is not”.