Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 155–166 | Cite as

Modelling CSR: How Managers Understand the Responsibilities of Business Towards Society

  • Esben Rahbek Pedersen


The purpose of this article is to develop a model of how managers perceive the responsibilities of business towards society. The article is based on the survey responses of more than 1,000 managers in eight large international firms. It is concluded that the managerial perceptions of societal responsibilities differ in some respects from the mainstream models found in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business ethics literature. The article is an output of RESPONSE: an EU- and corporate-funded research project on managerial perceptions of CSR.


business in society corporate social responsibility (CSR) management managerial perceptions 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andriof, J., & McIntosh, M.2001. “Introduction”, in J. Andriof, M. McIntosh, & (eds.), Perspectives on Corporate Citizenship (Greenleaf Publishing Ltd., Sheffield, UK), pp. 14-24.Google Scholar
  2. Baines, T., Lightfoot, H., Williams, G.M., & Greenough, R. (2006). State-of-the-art in lean design engineering: a literature review on white collar lean. Journal of Engineering Manufacture, 220(9), 1539–1547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blowfield, M., & Googins, B.K. 2006. “Step Up: A Call for Business Leadership in Society. 2006”, A Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Monograph (Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Chestnut Hill, MA).Google Scholar
  4. Carroll, A.B. (1991). The Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility: Toward a Moral Managemetn of Organizational Stakeholders. Business Horizons, 34(4), 39–48. doi: 10.1016/0007-6813(91)90005-G.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charmaz, K. 2006, Constructing Grounded Theory (Sage Publications Ltd, London).Google Scholar
  6. Dahlsrud, A.: 2008, ‹How Corporate Social Responsibility is Defined: an Analysis of 37 Definitions’, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 15(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  7. Elkington, J. 1998, Cannibals with forks (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, Canada).Google Scholar
  8. Epstein, M.J. 2008, Making Sustainability Work (Greenleaf Publishing Limited, Sheffield).Google Scholar
  9. Fernández, E., Junquera, B., & Ordiz, M. (2006). Managers’ Profile in Environmental Strategy: A Review of the Literature. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 13(5), 261–274. doi: 10.1002/csr.109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Figge, F., Hahn, T., Schaltegger, S., & Wagner, M. (2002). The Sustainability Balanced Scorecard – Linking Sustainability Management to Business Strategy. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(5), 269–284.Google Scholar
  11. Franco-Santos, M., & Bourne, M. (2005). An examination of the literature relating to issues affecting how companies manage through measures. Production Planning and Control, 16(2), 114–124. doi: 10.1080/09537280512331333020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Freeman, R.E. 1984, Strategic management: a stakeholder approach (Pitman, Boston, Massachusetts).Google Scholar
  13. Freeman, R.E. (1994). The Politics of Stakeholder Theory: Some Future Directions. Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(4), 409–421. doi: 10.2307/3857340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman, R.E., & McVea, J. 2001. “A Stakeholder Approach to Strategic Management”, in M. A. Hitt, R. E. Freeman, & J. S. Harrison (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Strategic Management, (Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Oxford, UK), pp. 189-207.Google Scholar
  15. Freeman, R.E., & Velamuri, S.R. 2006. “A New Approach to CSR: Company Stakeholder Responsibility”, in M. Morsing & A. Kakabadse (eds.), Corporate Social Responsibility: From Aspiration to Application (Palgrave MacMillan Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire), pp. 9-23.Google Scholar
  16. Freeman, R. E., Wicks, A. C., & Parmar, B.: 2004, “Stakeholder Theory and “The Corporate Objective Revisited”, Organization Science 15(3), 364-369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gao, S.S., & Zhang, J.J. (2006). Stakeholder engagement, social auditing and corporate sustainability. Business Process Management Journal, 12(6), 722–740. doi: 10.1108/14637150610710891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hardjono, T.W., & van Marrewijk, M. (2001). The Social Dimensions of Business Excellence. Corporate Environmental Strategy, 8(3), 223–233. doi: 10.1016/S1066-7938(01)00125-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harrison, J., & Boyle, E. (2006). Falling into capability learning traps: The role of the firm’s predominant managerial mental models. Management Decision, 44(1), 31–43. doi: 10.1108/00251740610641445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harrison, J.S., & Freeman, R.E. (1999). Stakeholders, Social Responsibility, and Performance: Empirical Evidence and Theoretical Perspectives. Academy of Management Journal, 42(5), 479–485. doi: 10.2307/256971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hill, R.C., & Levenhagen, M. (1995). Metaphors and Mental Models: Sensemaking and Sensegiving in Innovative and Entrepreneurial Activities. Journal of Management, 21(6), 1057–1074. doi: 10.1177/014920639502100603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Holmes, S. (1976). Executive Perceptions of Corporate Social Responsibility. Business Horizons, 19(3), 34–40. doi: 10.1016/0007-6813(76)90049-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jenkins, H. (2006). Small Business Champions for Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3), 241–256. doi: 10.1007/s10551-006-9182-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lewins, A., & Silver, C. 2007. Using Software in Qualitative Research (Sage Publications Ltd, London).Google Scholar
  25. Marrewijk, M. v. (2003). Concepts and Definitions of CSR and Corporate Sustainability: Between Agency and Communion. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(2-3), 95–105. doi: 10.1023/A:1023331212247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marrewijk, M. v., Wuisman, I., de Cleyn, W., Timmers, J., Panapanaan, V., & Linnanen, L. (2004). A Phase-wise Development Approach to Business Excellence: Towards an Innovative, Stakeholder-oriented Assessment Tool for Organizational Excellence and CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 55(2), 83–98. doi: 10.1007/s10551-004-2154-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Matten, D., & Crane, A. (2005). Corporate Citizenship: Toward an Extended Theoretical Conceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 166–179.Google Scholar
  28. McAlister, D.T., Ferrell, O.C., & Ferrell, L. 2003, Business and Society: A strategic Approach to Corporate Citizenship (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston).Google Scholar
  29. Meehan, J., Meehan, K., & Richards, A. (2006). Corporate social responsibility: the 3C-SR model. International Journal of Social Economics, 33(5/6), 386–398. doi: 10.1108/03068290610660661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mintzberg, H. (1983). The Case for Corporate Social Responsibility. The Journal of Business Strategy, 4(2), 3–15. doi: 10.1108/eb039015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pedersen, E.R. (2006). Making Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Operable: How Companies Translate Stakeholder Dialogue into Practice. Business and Society Review, 111(2), 137–163. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8594.2006.00265.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pfeffer, J. (2005). Changing Mental Models: HR’s most Important Task. Human Resource Management, 44(2), 123–128. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Poksinska, B., Dahlgaard, J.J., & Eklund, J. (2003). Implementing ISO 14000 in Sweden: Motives, benefits and comparisons with ISO 9000. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 20(5), 585–606. doi: 10.1108/02656710310476543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quazi, A.M. (2003). Identifying the determinants of corporate managers’ perceived social obligations. Management Decision, 41(9), 822–831. doi: 10.1108/00251740310488999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Quazi, A.M., & O’Brien, D. (2000). An Empirical Test of a Cross-national Model of Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 25, 33–51. doi: 10.1023/A:1006305111122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. RESPONSE: 2007a, ‹Understanding and Responding to Societal Demands on Corporate Responsibility. Report Published in Relation to the Final Conference of the RESPONSE Project at INSEAD, Fontainebleau’, Accessed 29 Nov 2007.
  37. RESPONSE: 2007b, ‹Understanding Corporate Responsibility: An Executive Briefing. Results and Insights from project “RESPONSE”. Report Published in Relation to the Final Conference of the RESPONSE Project at INSEAD, Fontainebleau’, Accessed 29 Nov 2007.
  38. Rouse, P., & Putterill, M. (2003). An integral framework for performance measurement. Management Decision, 41(8), 791–805. doi: 10.1108/00251740310496305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Senge, P.M. (1992). Mental Models. Planning Review, 20(2), 4–10.Google Scholar
  40. Sethi, S.P. 2003, Setting Global Standards: Guidelines for Creating Codes of Conduct in Multinational Corporations (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hobroken, New Jersey).Google Scholar
  41. Smith, N.C. (2003). Corporate Social Responsibility: Whether or How? California Management Review, 45(4), 52–76.Google Scholar
  42. Swanson, D., & Niehoff, B.P. 2001. “Business Citizenship Outside and Inside Organisations”, in J. Andriof & M. McIntosh (eds.), Perspectives on Corporate Citizenship (Greenleaf Publishing Limited Sheffield), pp. 104-116.Google Scholar
  43. Thomas, A.S., & Simerly, R.L. (1994). The Chief Executive Officer and Corporate Social Performance: An Interdisciplinary Examination. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(12), 959–968. doi: 10.1007/BF00881665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. UNIDO. 2002, Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications for Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries (United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Vienna).Google Scholar
  45. van der Woerd, F., & van den Brink, T. (2004). Feasibility of a Responsive Business Scorecard – a Pilot Study. Journal of Business Ethics, 55(2), 173–186. doi: 10.1007/s10551-004-1900-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vitell, S. J. and A. Singhapakdi: 1991, `Factors Influencing the Perceived Importance of Stakeholder Groups in Situations Involving Ethical Issues', Business and Professional Ethics Journal 10(3), 53–72.Google Scholar
  47. Waddock, S.A., Bodwell, C., & Graves, S.B. (2002). Responsibility: The new business imperative. Academy of Management Executive, 16(2), 132–147.Google Scholar
  48. Warhurst, A. (2005). Future roles of business in society: the expanding boundaries of corporate responsibility and a compelling case for partnership. Futures, 37(2-3), 151–168. doi: 10.1016/j.futures.2004.03.033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Weaver, G.R., Treviño, L.K., & Cochran, P.L. (1999). Corporate Ethics Programs as Control Systems: Influences of Executive Commitment and Environmental Factors. Academy of Management Journal, 42(1), 41–57. doi: 10.2307/256873.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. WEF 2003, Responding to the Leadership Challenge: Findings of a CEO Survey on Global Corporate Citizenship (World Economic Forum (WEF), Geneva).Google Scholar
  51. Werre, M. (2003). Implementing Corporate Responsibility – The Chiquita Case. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(2-3), 247–260. doi: 10.1023/A:1023316303587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wicks, A.C., Gilbert, D.R., & Freeman, R.E. (1994). A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Stakeholder Concept. Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(4), 475–497. doi: 10.2307/3857345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wood, D.J. (1991). Social Issues in Management: Theory and Research in Corporate Social Performance. Journal of Management, 17(2), 383–406. doi: 10.1177/014920639101700206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CBS Center for Corporate Social Responsibility (CBSCSR)Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

Personalised recommendations