Reconstructing the Corporate Social Responsibility Construct in Utlish
20 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2005
Date Written: July 2005
The charged debate on the C-S-R-ization of organisational practices seems to have produced two opposing and seemingly incompatible explanations for why organisations should engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR); one, the normative rationale based on idealistic or normative appeal to ethics, and the other, the instrumental rationale, based on an appeal to business pragmatism. This paper argues that a missing link in this debate is the failure to recognize that the normative and instrumental approaches to corporate social responsibility are underpinned by substantively, differentiating, relative logics of emotional rationalism on the one hand, and instrumental rationalism (rational choice) on the other. The paper makes a case that for CSR as a management practice, to be practicable and actionable within a sustainable business agenda, it will need to be stripped of its current normative undertone and reconstructed in the instrumentally, pragmatic (utlish) language of business. Otherwise, the whole concept of CSR may continue to dwell in the realm of abstract theorizing without yielding much beneficial and practicable outcome. The paper concludes that such an approach that situates CSR within a pragmatic business lingua, rather than a non-business lingua, will help in legitimizing CSR as a 'neutral' management practice.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, organisational practice paradigms, business language
JEL Classification: M10, M14, Z00, P10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation