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Inherited Scepticism and Neo-communist CSR-washing: Evidence from a Post-communist Society

Abstract

The sizeable theoretical and empirical literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business ethics in Western, developed economies indicates that the topic has attracted significant interest from academics and practitioners. There is, however, less evidence of the practice of CSR and business ethics in non-Western, transition economies, as insufficient attention is paid to the contextual specifications and underlying processes that may lead to different versions of CSR. Therefore, this paper examines the practice and sense-making of CSR and business ethics from the perspective of the fertile and under researched post-communist context of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), to join the growing academic debate about the impact of cultural and historical traditions on the practice and sense-making of CSR and business ethics in non-Western contexts. The study adopts a particular focus on the post-communist and under researched context of Bulgaria where CSR is still a relatively new phenomenon. By following an exploratory research design and by collecting qualitative data from 34 executives employed by public and private sector organisations in Bulgaria, the study finds that the local business environment is composed of a complex mix of various institutionalised pressures and challenges that predispose organisations to adopt a particular approach to CSR, ethical misconduct and CSR-washing. Apart from the significant contributions related to the practice, understanding and contextualisation of CSR in non-Western countries, the study also identifies challenges of business ethics in transition economies and adds depth to the emerging literature on CSR-washing by proposing a model for neo-communist CSR-washing. The study also offers contributions for practitioners and policy-makers.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Maskari (Bulg.)—hypocrites.

  2. 2.

    Politicians, part of the present government (as of time of the data collection), well known for their corrupt practices and money laundering. One owns hotels and restaurants, another owns most of the media press in the country, and the last one is in the energy and power business.

  3. 3.

    George Soros.

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Acknowledgements

The authors want to thank the guest editors and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript.

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Koleva, P., Meadows, M. Inherited Scepticism and Neo-communist CSR-washing: Evidence from a Post-communist Society. J Bus Ethics 174, 783–804 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-021-04929-7

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Keywords

  • CSR
  • Post-communist countries
  • CSR-washing
  • Grounded Theory