Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 131, Issue 3, pp 649–664 | Cite as

Rhetorical Construction of Narcissistic CSR Orientation

  • Kirsti Iivonen
  • Johanna MoisanderEmail author


This paper takes a critical perspective on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and examines the ways in which an industry organization discursively manages the relationship between the industry and its stakeholders in a situation where the legitimacy of the industry is called into question. Drawing on the literature on organizational narcissism and sensemaking the paper develops the construct of narcissistic CSR orientation and empirically elaborates on three defensive rhetorical strategies through which the organization makes sense of the accountability and responsibility of the industry for the negative societal effects of their business. The paper advances knowledge in the field of critical CSR by proposing a new framework for critically examining organization-stakeholder relationships and organizational responses to stakeholder demands in contexts where the interests of organizations are in conflict with the public good.


Critical CSR Organizational narcissism Sensemaking Rhetoric Obesity Beverage industry Legitimacy 



American Beverage Association


Center for Science in the Public Interest


Corporate Social Responsibility


World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management StudiesAalto University School of Business AaltoFinland

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