Much Ado About Nothing: A Conceptual Critique of CSR

48 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2006

See all articles by J. van Oosterhout

J. van Oosterhout

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Date Written: August 14, 2006

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a nominal term clearly resonates with scholars and practitioners alike. As a scientific concept, however, it has often been criticized for its lack of definitional precision and poor measurement. In this paper we review and assess intensional and extensional definitions of the concept, as they have figured in the prior CSR literature. But we also go beyond these traditional review exercises by assessing the role (if any) of the concept in positive theorizing. The upshot of this analysis is that since the CSR concept adds nothing of value to existing frameworks in the field of management and organization, such as the economizing and legitimizing perspectives, it is best to discard it altogether.

Keywords: Corporate Social Performance, Economizing, Corporate Social Responsibility, Extensional Definitions, Intensional Definitions, Positive Theorizing, Legitimizing

Suggested Citation

van Oosterhout, Hans and Heugens, Pursey P.M.A.R., Much Ado About Nothing: A Conceptual Critique of CSR (August 14, 2006). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2006-040-ORG. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=924505

Hans Van Oosterhout (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2365 (Phone)
0031 10 408 9012 (Fax)

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