Skip to main content

CSR as Gendered Neocoloniality in the Global South

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • 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 

  • Aktern, N. (2013). Labor pains: Bangladeshi union leader doesn’t want US to revoke trade privileges. World policy. http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2013/06/27/labor-pains-bangladeshi-union-leader-doesnt-want-us-revoke-trade-privileges.

  • Alamgir, F., & Cairns, G. (2015). Economic inequality of the badli workers of Bangladesh: Contested entitlements and a ‘perpetually temporary’ life-world. Human Relations. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726714559433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 http://globalwww.global-labour-university.org/fileadmin/GLU_conference_2014/papers/Anner.pdf.

  • Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization (Vol. 1). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beneria, L., Floro, M., Grown, C., & MacDonald, M. (2000). Introduction: Globalization and gender. Feminist Economics,6(3), vii–xviii.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bohman, J. (1998). The coming of age of deliberative democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy,6(4), 400–425.

    Google Scholar 

  • Borgerson, J. L. (2007). On the harmony of feminist ethics and business ethics. Business and Society Review,112(4), 477–509.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Calkin, S. (2015). Globalizing ‘Girl Power’: Corporate social responsibility and transnational business initiatives for gender equality. Globalizations,13, 1–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cardoso, C. P., & Adelman, M. (2016). Feminisms from the perspective of Afro-Brazilian women. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism,14(1), 1–29.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Collins, J. L. (2009). Threads: Gender, labor, and power in the global apparel industry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cunningham, M. (2006). Indigenous women’s visions of an inclusive feminism. Development,49(1), 55–59.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Doh, J. P. (2005). Offshore outsourcing: Implications for international business and strategic management theory and practice. Journal of Management Studies,42(3), 695–704.

    Google Scholar 

  • Enloe, C. (2014). Bananas, beaches and bases: Making feminist sense of international politics (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferber, M. A., & Nelson, J. A. (Eds.). (2003). Beyond economic man. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fotaki, M., & Prasad, A. (2015). Questioning neoliberal capitalism and economic inequality in business schools. Academy of Management Learning and Education,14(4), 556–575.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grosser, K. (2009). CSR and gender equality: Women as stakeholders and the EU sustainability strategy. Business Ethics: A European Review,18(3), 290–307.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grosser, K. (2011). Corporate social responsibility, gender equality and organizational change: A feminist perspective. Doctoral Thesis. University of Nottingham, U.K. http://etheses.nottingham.ac.uk/2138/2/KateGrosserPhDThesis2011_Corporate_Social_Responsibility,_Gender_Equality_and_Organizational_Change.pdf.

  • Grosser, K. (2015). Corporate social responsibility and multi-stakeholder governance: Pluralism, feminist perspectives and women’s NGOs. Journal of Business Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2526-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2005a). Gender mainstreaming and corporate social responsibility: Reporting workplace issues. Journal of Business Ethics,62(4), 327–340.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2005b). The role of corporate social responsibility in gender mainstreaming. International Feminist Journal of Politics,7(4), 532–554.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2008). Developments in company reporting on workplace gender equality? A corporate social responsibility perspective. Accounting Forum,32(3), 179–198.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoogvelt, A. (2001). Globalisation and post-colonial world: The new political economy of development. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • HRW (Human Rights Watch). (2015a). Whoever raises their head suffers the most. http://features.hrw.org/features/HRW_2015_reports/Bangladesh_Garment_Factories/index.html.

  • HRW (Human Rights Watch). (2015b). Bangladesh: 2 years after Rana Plaza, workers denied rights. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/22/bangladesh-2-years-after-rana-plaza-workers-denied-rights.

  • 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 

  • ILO (International Labor Organization). (2010). Gender mainstreaming and local economic development strategies: A guide. International labor organization bureau for gender equality. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—emp_ent/—led/documents/publication/wcms_141223.pdf.

  • Jamali, D., Karam, C., & Blowfield, M. (Eds.). (2015). Development-oriented corporate social responsibility (Vol. 1). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Jopson, B., Milne, R., & Kazmin, A. (2013). European retailers to sign Bangladesh safety pact. Financial Times Online. https://www.ft.com/content/fc2d38a4-bbef-11e2-82df-00144feab7de.

  • Kakuchi, S. (2013). Female garment workers bear brunt of tragedy. Inter Press Service. http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/05/female-garment-workers-bear-brunt-of-tragedy/.

  • Karam, C. M., & Jamali, D. (2013). Gendering CSR in the Arab Middle East: An institutional perspective. Business Ethics Quarterly,23, 31–68. https://doi.org/10.5840/beq20132312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Landes, J. (1992). Rethinking Habermas’s public sphere. Political Theory Newsletter,4(1), 51–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1111/beer.12081.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levy, D. L. (2008). Political contestation in global production networks. Academy of Management Review,33(4), 943–963.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lipschutz, R. D. (2005). Power, politics and global civil society. Millennium: Journal of International Studies,33(3), 747–769.

    Google Scholar 

  • Loomba, A. (1998/2007). Colonialism/postcolonialism (2nd ed). Milton Park: Routledge.

  • Lugones, M. (2010). Toward a decolonial feminism. Hypatia,25(4), 742–759.

    Google Scholar 

  • Machold, S., Ahmed, P. K., & Farquhar, S. S. (2008). Corporate governance and ethics: A feminist perspective. Journal of Business Ethics,81(3), 665–678.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maher, S. (2015). Rana Plaza: Two years after the tragedy, why so little has changed? The Guardian, April 22, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/apr/23/rana-plaza-bangladesh-factory-tragedy-little-changed.

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manning, J. (2017). Communitarian organising: Maya women decolonising organisation studies. In Paper presented at 10th international critical management studies conference, Liverpool, UK.

  • Marshall, J. (2007). The gendering of leadership in corporate social responsibility. Journal of Organizational Change Management,20(2), 165–181.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCarthy, L. (2012). Gender and corporate social responsibility in the value chain: Three perspectives. In Paper presentation at CRRC conference, Bordeaux, France.

  • McCarthy, L. (2015). Organising CSR for gender equality: Institutional work in the cocoa value chain. Doctoral dissertation, University of Nottingham, UK.

  • McCarthy, L. (2017). Empowering women through corporate social responsibility: A feminist Foucauldian critique. Business Ethics Quarterly,27(4), 603–631.

    Google Scholar 

  • McClintock, A. (1992). The angel of progress: Pitfalls of the term of “post-colonialism”. Social Text,31(32), 84–98.

    Google Scholar 

  • McClintock, A., Mufti, A., & Shohat, E. (Eds.). (1997). Dangerous liaisons: Gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives (Vol. 11). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McEwan, C. (2001). Postcolonialism, feminism and development: Intersections and dilemmas. Progress in Development Studies,1(2), 93–111.

    Google Scholar 

  • Meehan, J. (Ed.). (1995). Feminists Read Habermas. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mills, S. (1995). Feminist stylistics. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mohanty, C. T. (1988). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist Review,30, 61–88.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mohanty, C. T. (2003b). Feminism without borders: Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morton, S. (2007). Gayatri Spivak: ethics, subalternity and the critique of postcolonial reason. Cambridge: Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Narayan, U., & Harding, S. (Eds.). (2000). Decentering the center: Philosophy for a multicultural, postcolonial, and feminist world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ngai, P. (2005). Made in China: Women factory workers in a global workplace. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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. http://books.openedition.org/iheid/pdf/6314.

  • NUK (Nari Udduk Kendra). (2014). Research and publications. http://nuk-bd.org.

  • Ong, A. (1987/2010). Spirits of resistance and capitalist discipline: Factory women in Malaysia. Albany: Suny Press.

  • Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in citizenship and sovereignty. Duke University Press.

  • Ozkazanc-Pan, B. (2008). International management meets ‘the rest of the world’. Academy of Management Review,33(4), 964–974.

    Google Scholar 

  • Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics,66, 71–88.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parry, B. (2004). Postcolonial studies: A materialist critique. NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pearson, R. (2007). Beyond women workers: Gendering CSR. Third World Quarterly,28(4), 731–749.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Plankey-Videla, N. (2012). We are in this dance together: Gender, power, and globalization at a Mexican garment firm. Rutgers University Press.

  • Power, M. (2004). Social provisioning as a starting point for feminist economics. Feminist Economics,10(3), 3–19.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prasad, A. (2012). Beyond analytical dichotomies. Human Relations,65(5), 567–595.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prieto-Carrón, M. (2006). Corporate social responsibility in Latin America: Chiquita, women banana workers and structural inequalities. Journal of Corporate Citizenship,21, 85–94.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prieto-Carrón, M. (2008). Women workers, industrialisation, global supply chains and corporate codes of conduct. Journal of Business Ethics,83(1), 5–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rai, S. (2008). Analysing global governance’. In S. M. Rai & G. Waylen (Eds.), Global governance: Feminist perspectives (pp. 19–42). NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Matten, D. (2009). Introduction to the special issue. Business Ethics Quarterly,19(3), 327–347.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schiwy, F. (2007). Decolonization and the question of subjectivity: Gender, race, and binary thinking. Cultural Studies,21(2–3), 271–294.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Spivak, G. C. (1985). Scattered speculations on the question of value. Diacritics,15(4), 73–93.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spivak, G. C. (1990). The post-colonial critic: Interviews, strategies. Dialogues: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spivak, G. C. (1995). Imaginary maps: Three stories by Mahasweta Devi. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spivak, G. C. (1999). A critique of postcolonial reason: Toward a history of the vanishing present. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spivak, G. C. (2004). Righting wrongs. The South Atlantic Quarterly,103(2), 523–581.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spivak, G. C. (2007). Interview with R. J. Young on Neocolonialism and the secret agent of knowledge. http://www.robertjcyoung.com/Spivakneocolonialism.pdf.

  • Srikantia, J. (2016). The structural violence of globalization. Critical Perspectives on International Business,12(3), 222–258.

    Google Scholar 

  • UNDP. (2014). Gender equality strategy. http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/gender/GenderEqualityStrategy2014-17.pdf.

  • Whelan, G. (2012). The political perspective of corporate social responsibility: A critical research agenda. Business Ethics Quarterly,22(04), 709–737.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yardley, J. (2013). Report on deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh finds widespread blame. New York Times,22, 1–3.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yuval-Davis, N. (2007). Intersectionality, citizenship and contemporary politics of belonging. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy,10(4), 561–574.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yuval-Davis, N. (2011). The politics of belonging: Intersectional contestations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Banu Ozkazanc-Pan.

Ethics declarations

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ozkazanc-Pan, B. CSR as Gendered Neocoloniality in the Global South. J Bus Ethics 160, 851–864 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3798-1

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3798-1

Keywords

  • Postcolonial
  • Feminist
  • CSR
  • PCSR
  • Capitalism
  • Neocolonial
  • Rana Plaza