The Paradox of Power in CSR: A Case Study on Implementation

Posted: 22 Oct 2008 Last revised: 20 Dec 2008

Date Written: October 1, 2008


Purpose: Although current literature assumes positive outcomes for stakeholders resulting from an increase in power associated with CSR, this research suggests that this increase can lead to conflict within organizations, resulting in almost complete inactivity on CSR.

Methods: A Single in-depth case study, focusing on power as an embedded concept.

Results: Empirical evidence is used to demonstrate how some actors use CSR to improve their own positions within an organization. Resource dependence theory is used to highlight why this may be a more significant concern for CSR.

Conclusions: Increasing power for CSR has the potential to offer actors associated with it increased personal power, and thus can attract opportunistic actors with little interest in realizing the benefits of CSR for the company and its stakeholders. Thus power can be an impediment to furthering CSR strategy and activities at the individual and organizational level.

This paper uses a resource dependence perspective and focuses on the details of the conflict between key members. The analysis uses the eight sources of power developed by Yukl & Falbe (1991) and nine influence tactics developed by Yukl & Tracey (1992) to investigate how the power of CSR can be corrupted within organizations, resulting in negative consequences for the intended beneficiaries of CSR.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, implementation, power, resource dependence theory, case study, empirical

Suggested Citation

Bondy, Krista, The Paradox of Power in CSR: A Case Study on Implementation (October 1, 2008). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 82, No. 2, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Krista Bondy (Contact Author)

University of Bath ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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