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Unearthing Sedimentation Dynamics in Political CSR: The Case of Colombia

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The stream on political corporate social responsibility (PCSR) argues that companies have recently assumed state-like roles to influence global governance. However, following emerging calls for greater contextualization of CSR, we trace the historic evolution of PCSR in the case of Colombia and argue that such political engagement by firms is not new. Looking beyond a linear chronological account, we reveal the sedimentation process behind PCSR by exploring the archetypical political roles businesses have taken on in providing public goods and acting as regulators, and chart their transformation. Our findings allow us to make two main contributions. First, by unearthing different strata of business and society relations, we enrich the research on PCSR, highlighting its historical sedimentation dynamics. By integrating institutional and historical perspectives, we respond to calls for complementary accounts of one of the premises found in the literature that considers globalization as the starting point of PCSR. Second, our exploration of the past and present of PCSR in Colombia provides scholars and practitioners with an overview of the complex state and stakes of CSR in that country. We also discuss the implications of sedimentation for PCSR theory and future research directions.

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  2. The 1980s, called the “lost decade” in Colombia and Latin America, was marked by financial crisis, deterioration of social conditions, high levels of poverty and reduction of social policies owing to government debt. Concomitantly, informal employment rose, armed groups grew stronger, kidnapings intensified and state illegitimacy increased (Villar 2001), prompting a new rural exodus and emigration (Ocampo Gaviria et al. 2007b).


  4. Bonsucro is a global nonprofit, multi-stakeholder organization fostering the sustainability of the sugarcane sector through its leading metric-based certification scheme (


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We wish to acknowlege the constructive comments of our editor, Robert Phillips, and two anonymous reviewers. We thank our interviewees who have participated in this study for sharing their time and insights with us. We also thank participants at EGOS 2014, particularly Roy Suddaby, David Chandler and Sebastien Picard, EGOS 2015 and LAEMOS 2016, where earlier versions of this paper were presented. We are also grateful to Aurélien Acquier, Olivier Delbard and Adrian Zicari for their helpful suggestions. Funding was provided by ESCP Europe and its Ph.D programme.

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Correspondence to Pilar Acosta.

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Pilar Acosta and Mar Pérezts declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Appendix: List of Additional Secondary Sources (Not Cited in the References)


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Acosta, P., Pérezts, M. Unearthing Sedimentation Dynamics in Political CSR: The Case of Colombia. J Bus Ethics 155, 425–444 (2019).

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