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Moving CSR beyond Functionalism: Toward a Pluralistic Approach of the Business & Society Interface Jean-Pascal Gond International Centre for Corporate.

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Presentation on theme: "Moving CSR beyond Functionalism: Toward a Pluralistic Approach of the Business & Society Interface Jean-Pascal Gond International Centre for Corporate."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moving CSR beyond Functionalism: Toward a Pluralistic Approach of the Business & Society Interface Jean-Pascal Gond International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility University of Nottingham STRUCTURE 1.CSR trapped by Functionalism 2.De-functionalizing CSR 3.Overview of the Framework 4.Conclusion and Discussion

2 (1) CSR IN THE FUNCTIONALIST TRAP Business-centric CSR –Focus on the ‘C’ rather than on the ‘S’ [e.g. Carroll, 1979; Margolis & Walsh, 2003] –This shift of a macro-social to a micro-social perspective has been described as a betrayal of the funding fathers’ ideas [see Marens, 2004 building on Bowen (1953)] Positivist CSR –Methodological ideal of research of the B&S field is positivist or ‘functionalist’ [see Burrell & Morgan, 1979; Scherer & Palazzo, 2006] –Illustrations: (1) search for a unified and testable concept of CSP; (2) CSP-FP empirical stream of research Instrumental CSR –Resurgence of the economic justification of CSR as a core argument [see Vogel, 2005] –CSR view as a Strategic and/or a Marketing tool

3 (2) DE-FUNCTIONALIZING CSR Bridging Society Back in –Lowest common multiple of CSR concepts is their attempt to capture something located at the Business and Society interface –The failure to address this point explains many contemporary theory-building problems Clarifying Underlying Assumptions –Reversed engineering: Taking stock of the alternative views of the B&S interface and use them to map CSR theories / concepts –Allows moving beyond the status quo Mobilizing a Heuristic Tool –Principle of minimal required variety –Use of Burrell & Morgan axes as heuristic tools to describe emerging trends toward less or non functionalist perspectives within the CSR field

4 (3) OVERVIEW OF THE FRAMEWORK Social Change Social Regulation CSR as a Socio- cognitive construction Constructivist view of the Business and Society Interface SubjectivityObjectivity CSR as a Power Relationship Sociopolitical view of the Business and Society Interface Functionalist view of the Business and Society Interface CSR as a Social Function Culturalist view of the Business and Society Interface CSR as a Cultural Product

5 (3.1) CSR AS A SOCIAL FUNCTION Underlying assumptions –B&S Interface = Interpenetrating Systems, Stability, Cohesion –CSR as a way to Regulate (Integrate) the B&S interface –Key question: How business and society can benefit from each other? How B and S can be integrated? E.g. CSR-FP convergence Conceptualization (established) –Functionalist Legacy of the field (most of the pasts concepts are strongly embedded in functionalism: e.g. CSR-1, CSR-2, CSP…) –Domination of the CSP-FP question in empirical researches Empirical evidence (established) –Business case discourse of corporations embracing CSR Perspectives (numerous but bounded) –A dynamic research program: the micro CSR-FP relationship –Macro-perspective on integration lost (Bottom of the pyramid?)

6 (3.2) CSR AS A POWER RELATIONSHIP (CSR AS POLITICS) Underlying assumptions –B&S Interface = Struggle, Domination, Frictions –CSR expressing the state of forces at the B&S interface –Key question: How business and society can dominate or impose their view to each other? What is the role of CSR in the struggle? Conceptualization (emerging) –Micro-perspective: Role of power in STK relationships –Macro-perspective: ‘Soft’ Political metaphor of Corporate Citizenship (sharing of political activities between Corporations/ State/Civil Society); ‘Hard’ critical view on CSR (e.g. Banerjee) Empirical evidence (emerging) –Critical discourses on CSR by activists > windows dressing… Perspectives (emerging) –Topic: CSR within globalization; North-South relationships & SR –Clear lack of theory-building

7 (3.3) CSR AS A CULTURAL PRODUCT Underlying assumptions –B&S Interface = Co-influence; Value Exchange and diffusion –CSR as a way to Infuse Business with Societies values –Key question: How can corporations integrated societies’ values? How is CSR influenced by the socio-cultural environment? Conceptualization (emerging) –Micro-level: CSP models focused on the role of organizational culture and value integration in decision-making processes –Macro-level: emerging frameworks (e.g. Explicit/Implicit) Empirical evidence (established) –Many empirical researches account for cross-national and cross- cultural differences in CSR definition and perceptions Perspectives (numerous) –Matching theory-building and empirical investigation –Looking at the reversed perspective: How B influence Ss values

8 (3.4) CSR AS A SOCIO-COGNITIVE CONSTRUCTION Underlying assumptions –B&S Interface = Co-construction, Overflows & reciprocal framing –CSR as a negotiated order between B&S –Key question: How are corporations defined and constructed by Society (and reciprocally)? Conceptualization (emerging) –Models and concepts of CSR defined and socially promoted and constructed by corporations and stakeholders (e.g. Rowley & Berman (2000); Mitnick (2000) –Performativity of CSR theory; role of CSR devices in defining CSR Empirical evidence (to establish) –Practitioners constructing and diffusing devices embedding CSR Perspectives (numerous) –Role of self-labelled CSR or STK ‘actors’ in the construction and the development of CSR markets; studies of CSR marketization

9 (4) Conclusion and Discussion Value/use of the Matrix –Sense-making tool, tool for theory-building (Lewis & Grimes, 1999), useful to track concepts history and potential lines of development –Capacity to address the de-functionalizing objective –Problem of its loose link with the original framework of B&M Addressing Methodological issues –How to integrate methodological aspects within the picture? Finalizing the paper –Restructuring the content of each box through a micro- / macro- perspective? –Explaining how to use the matrix to de-functionalize a specific concept / theory? –Too many points? How to refocus the paper?


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