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CSR-Washing is Rare: A Conceptual Framework, Literature Review, and Critique

Abstract

Growth in CSR-washing claims in recent decades has been dramatic in numerous academic and activist contexts. The discourse, however, has been fragmented, and still lacks an integrated framework of the conditions necessary for successful CSR-washing. Theorizing successful CSR-washing as the joint occurrence of five conditions, this paper undertakes a literature review of the empirical evidence for and against each condition. The literature review finds that many of the conditions are either highly contingent, rendering CSR-washing as a complex and fragile outcome. This finding runs counter to the dominant perception in the general public, among activists, and among a vocal contingent of academics that successful CSR-washing is rampant.

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Pope, S., Wæraas, A. CSR-Washing is Rare: A Conceptual Framework, Literature Review, and Critique. J Bus Ethics 137, 173–193 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2546-z

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Keywords

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Greenwashing
  • CSR and decoupling
  • CSR communication
  • CSR performance
  • CSR literature review