Reconstructing the Corporate Social Responsibility Construct in Utlish

Posted: 27 Apr 2006

See all articles by Kenneth Amaeshi

Kenneth Amaeshi

University of Edinburgh Business School; Cranfield University - School of Management

A.B. C. Adi

Lagos Business School; University of Tsukuba

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper


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

Amaeshi, Kenneth and Adi, Bongo C., Reconstructing the Corporate Social Responsibility Construct in Utlish. Business Ethics: A European Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Kenneth Amaeshi (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh Business School ( email )

29 Buccleuch Place
Central Area
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Cranfield University - School of Management ( email )

Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL
United Kingdom

Bongo C. Adi

Lagos Business School ( email )

Pan-Atlantic University
KM 22, Lekki-Epe Expressway
Lagos, Lagos State


University of Tsukuba ( email )

Tsukuba University , Ibaraki Ken
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Ibaraki 3050006

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