Can Corporations Be Citizens? Corporate Citizenship as a Metaphor for Business Participation in Society

Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2005

Posted: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by Dirk Matten

Dirk Matten

York University - Schulich School of Business

Jeremy Moon

Nottingham University Business School (NUBS)

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: July 1, 2005

Abstract

This paper investigates whether, in theoretical terms, corporations can be citizens. The argument is based on the observation that the debate on "corporate citizenship" (CC) has only paid limited attention to the actual notion of citizenship. Where it has been discussed, authors have either largely left the concept of CC unquestioned, or applied rather unidimensional and decontextualized notions of citizenship to the corporate sphere. The paper opens with a critical discussion of a major contribution to the CC literature, the work of Logsdon and Wood (Wood and Logsdon 2001; Logsdon and Wood 2002). It continues with a consideration of the nature and role of metaphors for business and of the contestable nature of the political concept of citizenship. It evaluates corporations as citizens through a four-dimensional framework of democratic citizenship offered by Stokes (2002). The analysis suggests that corporations do not easily fit the "liberal minimalist" model of citizenship. It finds, however some possibilities for fit with the three more participatory models. The paper concludes by cautioning against basing corporate citizenship on legal and administrative status or identity, and mapping out specific criteria by which we might determine whether corporations could be considered as citizens by virtue of their participation in processes of governance.

Suggested Citation

Matten, Dirk and Moon, Jeremy and Crane, Andrew, Can Corporations Be Citizens? Corporate Citizenship as a Metaphor for Business Participation in Society (July 1, 2005). Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676836

Dirk Matten

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Jeremy Moon

Nottingham University Business School (NUBS) ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom
+44 0 115 9514781 (Phone)

Andrew Crane (Contact Author)

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/faculty/andrew-crane.html

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