CSR as Gendered Neocoloniality in the Global South

  • Banu Ozkazanc-PanEmail author
Original Paper


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has generally been recognized as corporate pro-social behavior aimed at remediating social issues external to organizations, while political CSR has acknowledged the political nature of such activity beyond social aims. Despite the growth of this literature, there is still little attention given to gender as the starting point for a conversation on CSR, ethics, and the Global South. Deploying critical insights from feminist work in postcolonial traditions, I outline how MNCs replicate gendered neocolonialist discourses and perpetuate exploitative material dependences between Global North/South through CSR activities. Specifically, I address issues of neocolonial relations, subaltern agency, and ethics in the context of gendered global division of labor through the exemplar of Rana Plaza and its aftermath. In all, I offer new directions for CSR scholarship by attending to the intersections of gender, ethics, and responsibility as they relate to corporate actions in the Global South.


Postcolonial Feminist CSR PCSR Capitalism Neocolonial Rana Plaza 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author Banu Ozkazanc-Pan declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human or Animal Participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Adnan, S. (2014). Impacts of globalization and liberalization on the political economy of structural transformation in Bangladesh. In B. Chakma (Ed.), South Asia in transition (pp. 127–152). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Aktern, N. (2013). Labor pains: Bangladeshi union leader doesn’t want US to revoke trade privileges. World policy.
  3. Alamgir, F., & Cairns, G. (2015). Economic inequality of the badli workers of Bangladesh: Contested entitlements and a ‘perpetually temporary’ life-world. Human Relations. Scholar
  4. Anner, M., & Hossain, J. (2014). Multinational corporations and economic inequality in the Global South: Causes, consequences, and countermeasures. In Global Labour University Conference. Available at
  5. Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization (Vol. 1). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barrientos, S., & Evers, B. (2014). Gendered production networks: push and pull on corporate responsibility? In S. M. Rai & G. Waylen (Eds.), New frontiers in feminist political economy (pp. 43–61). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Barrientos, S., & Smith, S. (2007). Do workers benefit from ethical trade? Assessing codes of labour practice in global production systems. Third World Quarterly, 28(4), 713–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bartley, T., & Egels-Zandén, N. (2015). Responsibility and neglect in global production networks: the uneven significance of codes of conduct in Indonesian factories. Global Networks, 15(s1), S21–S44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bear, S., Rahman, N., & Post, C. (2010). The impact of board diversity and gender composition on corporate social responsibility and firm reputation. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(2), 207–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beneria, L., Deere, C. D., & Kabeer, N. (2013). Gender and international migration: Globalization, development and governance. In L. Oso & N. Ribas-Mateos (Eds.), The international handbook on gender, migration and transnationalism (pp. 45–68). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Beneria, L., Floro, M., Grown, C., & MacDonald, M. (2000). Introduction: Globalization and gender. Feminist Economics, 6(3), vii–xviii.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bohman, J. (1998). The coming of age of deliberative democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy, 6(4), 400–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Borgerson, J. L. (2007). On the harmony of feminist ethics and business ethics. Business and Society Review, 112(4), 477–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Calás, M. B., & Smircich, L. (1997). Predicando la moral en calzoncillos? Feminist inquiries into business ethics. In A. Larson & R. E. Freeman (Eds.), Business ethics and women’s studies (pp. 50–79). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Calás, M. B., & Smircich, L. (2006). From the ‘woman’s point of view’ ten years later: Towards a feminist organizational studies’. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, T. Lawrence, & W. Nord (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organization studies (pp. 284–346). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Calás, M. B., Smircich, L., Tienari, J., & Ellehave, C. F. (2010). Editorial: Observing globalized capitalism—Gender and ethnicity as an entry point. Gender, Work and Organization, 17(3), 243–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Calkin, S. (2015). Globalizing ‘Girl Power’: Corporate social responsibility and transnational business initiatives for gender equality. Globalizations, 13, 1–15.Google Scholar
  18. Cardoso, C. P., & Adelman, M. (2016). Feminisms from the perspective of Afro-Brazilian women. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 14(1), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohen, J. (1992). The historicist critique. In J. Cohen & A. Arato (Eds.), Civil society and political theory (pp. 201–254). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Collins, J. L. (2009). Threads: Gender, labor, and power in the global apparel industry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Cunningham, M. (2006). Indigenous women’s visions of an inclusive feminism. Development, 49(1), 55–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Derry, R. (2002). Feminist theory and business ethics. In R. Fredrick (Ed.), A companion to business ethics (pp. 81–87). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Doh, J. P. (2005). Offshore outsourcing: Implications for international business and strategic management theory and practice. Journal of Management Studies, 42(3), 695–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Enloe, C. (2014). Bananas, beaches and bases: Making feminist sense of international politics (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  25. Ferber, M. A., & Nelson, J. A. (Eds.). (2003). Beyond economic man. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Fotaki, M., & Prasad, A. (2015). Questioning neoliberal capitalism and economic inequality in business schools. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 14(4), 556–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gardener, D. (2012). Workers’ rights and corporate accountability: the move towards practical, worker-driven change for sportswear workers in Indonesia. Gender and Development, 20(1), 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grosser, K. (2009). CSR and gender equality: Women as stakeholders and the EU sustainability strategy. Business Ethics: A European Review, 18(3), 290–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grosser, K. (2011). Corporate social responsibility, gender equality and organizational change: A feminist perspective. Doctoral Thesis. University of Nottingham, U.K.,_Gender_Equality_and_Organizational_Change.pdf.
  31. Grosser, K. (2015). Corporate social responsibility and multi-stakeholder governance: Pluralism, feminist perspectives and women’s NGOs. Journal of Business Ethics. Scholar
  32. Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2005a). Gender mainstreaming and corporate social responsibility: Reporting workplace issues. Journal of Business Ethics, 62(4), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2005b). The role of corporate social responsibility in gender mainstreaming. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4), 532–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2008). Developments in company reporting on workplace gender equality? A corporate social responsibility perspective. Accounting Forum, 32(3), 179–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hale, A., & Opondo, M. (2005). Humanising the cut flower chain: Confronting the realities of flower production for workers in Kenya. Antipode, 37(2), 301–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hayhurst, L. M. C. (2011). “Governing” the “girl effect” through sport, gender and development? Postcolonial girlhoods, constellations of aid and global corporate social engagement, Order No. NR78215. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  37. Hernández Castillo, R. A. (2010). The emergence of indigenous feminism in Latin America. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 35(3), 539–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hoang, D., & Jones, B. (2012). Why do corporate codes of conduct fail? Women workers and clothing supply chains in Vietnam. Global Social Policy, 12(1), 67–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hoogvelt, A. (2001). Globalisation and post-colonial world: The new political economy of development. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. HRW (Human Rights Watch). (2015a). Whoever raises their head suffers the most.
  41. HRW (Human Rights Watch). (2015b). Bangladesh: 2 years after Rana Plaza, workers denied rights.
  42. Huber, K., & Gilbert, D. (2015). Political CSR and social development: Lessons from the Bangladeshi. In D. Jamali, C. Karam, & M. Blowfield (Eds.), Development-oriented corporate social responsibility (Vol. 1, pp. 228–246). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  43. ILO (International Labor Organization). (2010). Gender mainstreaming and local economic development strategies: A guide. International labor organization bureau for gender equality.—ed_emp/—emp_ent/—led/documents/publication/wcms_141223.pdf.
  44. Jamali, D., Karam, C., & Blowfield, M. (Eds.). (2015). Development-oriented corporate social responsibility (Vol. 1). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Jenkins, R. O., Pearson, R., & Seyfang, G. (Eds.). (2002). Corporate responsibility and labour rights: Codes of conduct in the global economy. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  46. Jopson, B., Milne, R., & Kazmin, A. (2013). European retailers to sign Bangladesh safety pact. Financial Times Online.
  47. Kakuchi, S. (2013). Female garment workers bear brunt of tragedy. Inter Press Service.
  48. Karam, C. M., & Jamali, D. (2013). Gendering CSR in the Arab Middle East: An institutional perspective. Business Ethics Quarterly, 23, 31–68. Scholar
  49. Karam, M. C., & Jamali, D. (2017). A cross-cultural and feminist perspective on CSR in developing countries: Uncovering latent power dynamics. Journal of Business Ethics, 142, 461–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Landes, J. (1992). Rethinking Habermas’s public sphere. Political Theory Newsletter, 4(1), 51–69.Google Scholar
  51. Larrieta-Rubín de Celis, I., Velasco-Balmaseda, E., Fernández de Bobadilla, S., Alonso-Almeida, M. D., & Intxaurburu-Clemente, G. (2015). Does having women managers lead to increased gender equality practices in corporate social responsibility? Business Ethics: A European Review, 24, 91–110. Scholar
  52. Levy, D. L. (2008). Political contestation in global production networks. Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 943–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lipschutz, R. D. (2005). Power, politics and global civil society. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 33(3), 747–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Loomba, A. (1998/2007). Colonialism/postcolonialism (2nd ed). Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Lugones, M. (2010). Toward a decolonial feminism. Hypatia, 25(4), 742–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Machold, S., Ahmed, P. K., & Farquhar, S. S. (2008). Corporate governance and ethics: A feminist perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(3), 665–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Maher, S. (2015). Rana Plaza: Two years after the tragedy, why so little has changed? The Guardian, April 22, 2015.
  58. Makita, R. (2009). New NGO-elite relations in business development for the poor in rural Bangladesh. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 20(1), 50–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Manning, J. (2017). Communitarian organising: Maya women decolonising organisation studies. In Paper presented at 10th international critical management studies conference, Liverpool, UK.Google Scholar
  60. Marshall, J. (2007). The gendering of leadership in corporate social responsibility. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 20(2), 165–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. McCarthy, L. (2012). Gender and corporate social responsibility in the value chain: Three perspectives. In Paper presentation at CRRC conference, Bordeaux, France.Google Scholar
  62. McCarthy, L. (2015). Organising CSR for gender equality: Institutional work in the cocoa value chain. Doctoral dissertation, University of Nottingham, UK.Google Scholar
  63. McCarthy, L. (2017). Empowering women through corporate social responsibility: A feminist Foucauldian critique. Business Ethics Quarterly, 27(4), 603–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McClintock, A. (1992). The angel of progress: Pitfalls of the term of “post-colonialism”. Social Text, 31(32), 84–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McClintock, A., Mufti, A., & Shohat, E. (Eds.). (1997). Dangerous liaisons: Gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives (Vol. 11). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  66. McEwan, C. (2001). Postcolonialism, feminism and development: Intersections and dilemmas. Progress in Development Studies, 1(2), 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Meehan, J. (Ed.). (1995). Feminists Read Habermas. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  68. Mills, S. (1995). Feminist stylistics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  69. Mohanty, C. T. (1988). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist Review, 30, 61–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Mohanty, C. T. (2003a). Under Western eyes revisited: Feminist solidarity through anticapitalist struggles. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(2), 499–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Mohanty, C. T. (2003b). Feminism without borders: Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Morton, S. (2007). Gayatri Spivak: ethics, subalternity and the critique of postcolonial reason. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  73. Narayan, U., & Harding, S. (Eds.). (2000). Decentering the center: Philosophy for a multicultural, postcolonial, and feminist world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Ngai, P. (2005). Made in China: Women factory workers in a global workplace. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ngai, P. (2016). Gendering dormitory labour system: Production and reproduction of labour use in South China. Vents d’Est, vents d’Ouest: Mouvements de femmes et féminismes anticoloniaux.
  76. NUK (Nari Udduk Kendra). (2014). Research and publications.
  77. Ong, A. (1987/2010). Spirits of resistance and capitalist discipline: Factory women in Malaysia. Albany: Suny Press.Google Scholar
  78. Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in citizenship and sovereignty. Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Ozkazanc-Pan, B. (2008). International management meets ‘the rest of the world’. Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 964–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 71–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Parry, B. (2004). Postcolonial studies: A materialist critique. NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Pearson, R. (2007). Beyond women workers: Gendering CSR. Third World Quarterly, 28(4), 731–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Pearson, R., & Seyfang, G. (2001). New hope or false dawn? Voluntary codes of conduct, labour regulation and social policy in a globalizing world. Global Social Policy, 1(1), 48–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Plankey-Videla, N. (2012). We are in this dance together: Gender, power, and globalization at a Mexican garment firm. Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  85. Power, M. (2004). Social provisioning as a starting point for feminist economics. Feminist Economics, 10(3), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Prasad, A. (2012). Beyond analytical dichotomies. Human Relations, 65(5), 567–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Prieto, M., & Quinteros, C. (2004). Never the twain shall meet? Women’s organisations and trade unions in the maquila industry in Central America. Development in Practice, 14(1/2), 149–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Prieto-Carrón, M. (2004). Is there anyone listening? Women workers in factories in Central America, and corporate codes of conduct. Development, 47(3), 101–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Prieto-Carrón, M. (2006). Corporate social responsibility in Latin America: Chiquita, women banana workers and structural inequalities. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, 85–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Prieto-Carrón, M. (2008). Women workers, industrialisation, global supply chains and corporate codes of conduct. Journal of Business Ethics, 83(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Prieto-Carrón, M., & Larner, W. (2010). Gendering codes of conduct: Chiquita bananas and Nicaraguan women workers. In V. Higgins, W. Larner, & S. Kitto (Eds.), Calculating the social: Standards and the reconfiguration of governing (pp. 38–55). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Rai, S. (2008). Analysing global governance’. In S. M. Rai & G. Waylen (Eds.), Global governance: Feminist perspectives (pp. 19–42). NY: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Rasche, A. (2009). Toward a model to compare and analyze accountability standards—The case of the UN Global Compact. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 16, 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Reinecke, J., & Donaghey, J. (2015). After Rana Plaza: Building coalitional power for labour rights between unions and (consumption-based) social movement organisations. Organization, 22(5), 720–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Robin, D., & Babin, L. (1997). Making sense of the research on gender and ethics in business: A critical analysis and extension. Business Ethics Quarterly, 7(4), 61–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2007). Toward a political conception of corporate responsibility: Business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1096–1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2011). The new political role of business in a globalized world: A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance and democracy. Journal of Management Studies, 48(4), 899–931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Matten, D. (2009). Introduction to the special issue. Business Ethics Quarterly, 19(3), 327–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Scherer, A. G., Rasche, A., Palazzo, G., & Spicer, A. (2016). Managing for political corporate social responsibility: New challenges and directions for PCSR 2.0. Journal of Management Studies, 53(3), 273–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Schiwy, F. (2007). Decolonization and the question of subjectivity: Gender, race, and binary thinking. Cultural Studies, 21(2–3), 271–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Spence, L. J. (2016). The obfuscation of gender and feminism in CSR research and the academic community: An essay’. In K. Grosser, L. McCarthy, & M. Kilgour (Eds.), Gender equality and responsible business: Expanding CSR horizons. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  102. Spivak, G. C. (1985). Scattered speculations on the question of value. Diacritics, 15(4), 73–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture (pp. 271–313). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Spivak, G. C. (1990). The post-colonial critic: Interviews, strategies. Dialogues: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  105. Spivak, G. C. (1995). Imaginary maps: Three stories by Mahasweta Devi. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  106. Spivak, G. C. (1999). A critique of postcolonial reason: Toward a history of the vanishing present. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  107. Spivak, G. C. (2004). Righting wrongs. The South Atlantic Quarterly, 103(2), 523–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. Spivak, G. C. (2007). Interview with R. J. Young on Neocolonialism and the secret agent of knowledge.
  109. Srikantia, J. (2016). The structural violence of globalization. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 12(3), 222–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Whelan, G. (2012). The political perspective of corporate social responsibility: A critical research agenda. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(04), 709–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Yardley, J. (2013). Report on deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh finds widespread blame. New York Times, 22, 1–3.Google Scholar
  112. Yuval-Davis, N. (2007). Intersectionality, citizenship and contemporary politics of belonging. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 10(4), 561–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. Yuval-Davis, N. (2011). The politics of belonging: Intersectional contestations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of ManagementUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations