Sub-theme 20: Organizing Corporate Social Responsibility: Interactions between Business and Society

Frank de Bakker
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jeremy Moon
University of Nottingham, UK
Andreas Rasche
Warwick Business School, UK

Call for Papers

The global spread of CSR as a management concept and business practice has lead to a growing interest in comparative international studies in CSR and a range of related concepts. Thus, CSR has emerged as a new stream of research raising important issues, not only for our understanding of CSR but also for broader debates in management studies, including issues such as local adaptation of management ideas, institutional change, business and society interactions as well as the nature of globalization.

Meanwhile, NGOs, activist groups and related societal organizations are increasingly studied in their capacity as influencers of business organizations. Corporate social responsibility, globalization or consumer affairs are just a few areas on which these organizations focus. The interactions between business organizations and societal organizations, the networks these organizations form or the mechanisms for governance that are applied require organizational and institutional innovations, both at the end of business organizations and at the end of civil society. The interaction processes between business and society are shifting and this will have implications for both management practice and our understanding of organizations and are likely to contribute to differences in local adaptation of concepts such as CSR.

This sub-theme aims at providing a forum for scholars to theorize and elaborate our knowledge on the changing organizational dynamics of the interactions between business and society in the context of the global spread and local adaptation of CSR. What drives these processes and how are NGOs/activist groups involved therein? The sub-theme focuses particularly on the following questions, all of which are in close rapport with the general conference theme:


1. How can we understand the global spread and local adaptation of CSR?

The global spread of CSR raises the question why it has been ongoing at this particular point in history, pointing to alternative ways of institutionalizing business responsibilities towards society which are locally embedded and different from the North American context from which CSR originates. Likewise, the growing body of research in comparative CSR clearly points to the fact that – while the language of CSR (and related concepts) is rising – nevertheless a great diversity of practices in CSR persist, both in most industrialized countries and in the so-called developing world. This EGOS stream focuses on analyzing and explaining those local adaptations of CSR, both empirically and theoretically:

  • Theoretical: how can we understand the global spread and local adaptation on a more general level and what predictions do those theories offer?
  • Empirical: what are specific forms of implementation, adaptation, translation or transformation of CSR in a specific regional, national or historical context?
  • Interdisciplinary: to understand the complex processes of the global spread and local implementation of CSR perspectives from multiple disciplines are useful. These include management studies, economics, sociology, politics, law, history and philosophy.


2. How can we understand the interaction of business and society on issues of CSR?

As the interaction of business and society has been studied from different angles (e.g., corporate governance, social movement studies, global governance studies, corporate responsibility), it would be useful to take stock of different viewpoints and approaches, fleshing out differences and commonalities. The addressed questions include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical: what are the theoretical foundations for studying the interactions between business and society? Which theoretical lens can explain which aspects of the interaction process between business and actors from society?
  • Methodological: what methods are used to research the interaction of business and society? What units and levels of analysis are particularly appropriate to stimulate research?
  • Research foci: what research foci do scholars from different disciplines employ to study the interactions between business and society? Which phenomena (e.g. activism, public-private partnerships, social audits) are currently explored in different disciplines?


3. What will be future trends in the interactions between business and society on CSR?

CSR, like few other contemporary management ideas, exposes the interplay between business organizations, NGOs/activist groups and national states and has been fuelled by significant institutional change throughout the globe. The rise of emerging economies, such as the BRIC countries, as well as the recent crisis in the global financial markets however will have crucial influence on how economies locally and globally govern the social impact and responsibilities of business. The proposed EGOS stream is dedicated to understanding future trends and developments in the broader context of CSR.

  • Which problems can occur while organizing the interactions between business and society? How can these problems be overcome?
  • What tactics do both business organizations and societal organizations deploy and how do their counterparts respond to these tactics?
  • Which organizational structures are likely to absorb the multi-stakeholder nature of interactions between business and societal actors?

We call for contributions that deal with the various aspects and dynamics of the interactions occurring between business and society. We are interested in both conceptual and empirical studies that draw on a variety of theoretical perspectives, such as, but not limited to, institutional theory, micro-political approaches, social movements theory, theories of governance and regulation, and in quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches. Comparative studies are encouraged.


Frank de Bakker 
Jeremy Moon 
Andreas Rasche