Journal Article

The origin of corporate social responsibility: global forces or national legacies?

Maria Gjølberg

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 7, issue 4, pages 605-637
Published in print October 2009 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp017
The origin of corporate social responsibility: global forces or national legacies?

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  • Moral Philosophy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Welfare Economics
  • Political Economy
  • Economic Sociology

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This paper explores the relative importance of global forces and national political-economic institutions for companies' willingness and ability to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). The globalist hypothesis postulates that a company's CSR efforts are a function of the dictates of the global market place: strong anti-globalization and anti-corporate sentiments generate a need for a positive reputation to obtain a ‘social license to operate’. The institutionalist hypothesis postulates that a company's CSR efforts are a function of institutional factors in the national political-economic system: companies based in political-economic systems with strong institutions for social embedding of the economy have comparative institutional advantages for success in CSR. The hypotheses are examined quantitatively by testing an index of national CSR performance against well-established political-economic indicators. The final analysis, based on qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), reveals causal heterogeneity and indicates two separate pathways leading to CSR success.

Keywords: varieties of capitalism; firm strategy; globalization; multinational firms; political economy; P51 comparative analysis of economic systems; P16 political economy; C12 hypothesis testing

Journal Article.  11193 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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