Conceptualizing Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: The Governmentality Dilemma

Posted: 19 Dec 2017

See all articles by Mette Morsing

Mette Morsing

Misum; Copenhagen Business School

Laura J. Spence

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Date Written: January 2016

Abstract

Corporate Social Responsibility communication in small firms has received little attention to date, but suffers particularly from poor theorization. In this conceptual paper we present the ‘governmentality dilemma’ where owner-managers who are committed to Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations. First, responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting. Second, an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company. We develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR to which small firm managers are increasingly exposed. We analyse these with a Foucauldian lens from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization to identify governmentality dilemmas of authenticity, control and identity.

Suggested Citation

Morsing, Mette and Spence, Laura J., Conceptualizing Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: The Governmentality Dilemma (January 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3088479

Mette Morsing (Contact Author)

Misum ( email )

PO Box 6501
Stockholm, 11383
Sweden

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Laura J. Spence

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

Egham
Surrey, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

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