Signposts or Weathervanes? The Curious Case of Corporate Social Responsibility and Conflict Minerals

47 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2017

See all articles by Ozlem Arikan

Ozlem Arikan

Aston Business School

Juliane Reinecke

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Crawford Spence

Concordia University

Kevin Morrell

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Date Written: November 16, 2015

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility is often framed in terms of opposing constructions of the firm. These reflect, respectively, different accounts of its obligations: either to shareholders or to stakeholders (who include shareholders). Although these opposing constructions of corporate responsibility are diametrically opposed, they are also much more fluid and mobile in certain contexts, since they can act as discursive resources that are deployed and brought into play in the struggle over shaping what responsibility means. They are less the fixed, ideological “signposts” they might appear, and more like “weathervanes” that move alongside changing rhetorical currents. To show this, we analyse the Securities and Exchange Commission consultation process, and legislation, relating to the provenance of “conflict minerals”. We identify two dialectically opposed camps, each seeking to influence final legislation and with end goals in keeping with the shareholder/stakeholder dichotomy. One camp lobbied for firms to scrutinize their entire supply chain, constructing the firm as a “global citizen” with very wide social responsibilities. The second camp lobbied for a lighter touch approach, constructing the firm as a “trader”, with much narrower social responsibilities. We analyse the complex interplay between these two opposed camps, our contribution being to show how both deploy competing conceptions of the corporation as discursive resources.

Keywords: Auditing, Conflict minerals, Disclosure, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Corporate social responsibility

JEL Classification: M42, M48

Suggested Citation

Arikan, Ozlem and Reinecke, Juliane and Spence, Crawford and Morrell, Kevin, Signposts or Weathervanes? The Curious Case of Corporate Social Responsibility and Conflict Minerals (November 16, 2015). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 2935, No. 3, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032498

Ozlem Arikan (Contact Author)

Aston Business School ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B47ET
United Kingdom

Juliane Reinecke

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Crawford Spence

Concordia University ( email )

1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8
Canada

Kevin Morrell

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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