Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 135–153 | Cite as

Corporate Social Responsibility in Challenging and Non-enabling Institutional Contexts: Do Institutional Voids matter?

  • Kenneth Amaeshi
  • Emmanuel AdegbiteEmail author
  • Tazeeb Rajwani


The extant literature on comparative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) often assumes functioning and enabling institutional arrangements, such as strong government, market and civil society, as a necessary condition for responsible business practices. Setting aside this dominant assumption and drawing insights from a case study of Fidelity Bank, Nigeria, we explore why and how firms still pursue and enact responsible business practices in what could be described as challenging and non-enabling institutional contexts for CSR. Our findings suggest that responsible business practices in such contexts are often anchored on some CSR adaptive mechanisms. These mechanisms uniquely complement themselves and inform CSR strategies. The CSR adaptive mechanisms and strategies, in combination and in complementarity, then act as an institutional buffer (i.e. ‘institutional immunity’), which enables firms to successfully engage in responsible practices irrespective of their weak institutional settings. We leverage this understanding to contribute to CSR in developing economies, often characterised by challenging and non-enabling institutional contexts. The research, policy and practice implications are also discussed.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Adaptive mechanisms Institutional theory Developing countries Institutional voids Nigeria 



This research study received funding from The British Academy, for which the authors are grateful. The authors also thank Fidelity Bank, Nigeria for the access granted. The authors also acknowledge support from Dr Judy Muthuri for her suggestions on the interview questions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Amaeshi
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Emmanuel Adegbite
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tazeeb Rajwani
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Edinburgh Business SchoolUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Durham University Business SchoolDurham UniversityThornabyUK
  3. 3.Cranfield School of ManagementCranfield UniversityCranfieldEngland, UK
  4. 4.Lagos Business SchoolLagosNigeria

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