Global Corporate Resistance to Public Pressures: Corporate Stakeholder Mobilization in the U.S., Norway, Germany, and France

Corporate Social Responsibility in a Globalizing World: Toward Effective Global CSR Frameworks. Edited by Kiyoteru Tsutsui and Alwyn Lim. (Forthcoming)

41 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2014  

Edward T. Walker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Sociology

Date Written: July 1, 2014

Abstract

The global diffusion of practices of Corporate Social Responsibility has drawn attention to a renegotiation of the interface between business, civil society, and the state. This changing context has led to increased pressures on business emerging from social movement groups and NGOs and, to a lesser extent, by governments through regulatory actions. Although CSR is one possible outcome of these pressures, an alternative – or, at times, complementary – outcome is corporate resistance through pro-corporate advocacy efforts in civil society. Often facilitated with the support of consultants, such campaigns are a type of costly signaling in which a company resists pressures in its sociopolitical environment by facilitating displays of popular support for the company’s political preferences. How should we understand these strategies of corporate resistance in cross-national context? This study finds that corporate grassroots mobilization efforts are shaped most strongly by the institutional design of the state – especially in a polity’s degree of statism and corporatism – and how these structures shape both the scale of the interest group system and the channels of corporate influence in politics. Statist systems without corporatist bargaining (e.g. France) tend to have very small interest group systems and anti-corporate protest tends to be directed at the state; these systems are among the least likely to facilitate corporate mobilization. Statist systems with corporatist bargaining (e.g. Germany) see a small to moderate amount of pro-business campaigning done primarily by trade groups. Liberal polities (e.g. the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and to a lesser extent Australia) see a high amount of corporate grassroots campaigning, whereas others with a history of both corporatism and associationalism (e.g. Norway) have a moderate amount of pro-corporate mobilization. The implications of this study suggest that the state is a central actor in shaping both the social responsibility of business and also in providing political opportunities for business resistance to stakeholder pressures.

Keywords: CSR, stakeholder mobilization, grassroots, participation, corporate political activity

Suggested Citation

Walker, Edward T., Global Corporate Resistance to Public Pressures: Corporate Stakeholder Mobilization in the U.S., Norway, Germany, and France (July 1, 2014). Corporate Social Responsibility in a Globalizing World: Toward Effective Global CSR Frameworks. Edited by Kiyoteru Tsutsui and Alwyn Lim. (Forthcoming) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2487386

Edward T. Walker (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Sociology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

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