The Concept of Business Legitimacy: Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Governance as Essential Elements of Ethical Business Legitimacy

Part of the Approaches to Global Sustainability, Markets, and Governance book series (AGSMG)


This chapter discusses corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, and corporate citizenship in relation to business legitimacy as a basic concept in the philosophy of management. Corporations must take into the consideration of legitimacy to be able to exist and prosper in a society: legitimacy is a precondition of business license to operate in society, and of the supply of necessary resources—ranging from investments, committed employees, business partners, and sales/consumption, to political support and support from an increasing range of diverse stakeholders. However, the interrelation between business and the rest of society changes with the evolution of society and mediates by changing legitimacy processes. Today, businesses’ ethical, social, and societal responsibility moves towards broader value orientations expressed in business ethics and the triple bottom-line, which balances social, environmental, and economic considerations and in societal commitment, where businesses assume tasks that were previously reserved for the state. Business legitimacy follows fluid, ambiguous norms so that ethics, communicative competences, and practices are a fundamental precondition for navigating in a society that grows increasingly dynamic and diverse. Indeed, the contents as well as the rationality of legitimacy and the types of legitimacy conflicts have changed and this is an important challenge for developing sustainability in the intersection between corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and corporate governance.


Legitimacy Corporate social responsibility Business ethics Institutional theory Management philosophy 


  1. Bidault, J., et al. (Eds.). (2002). Trust, the firm and society. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Carroll, A. B. (1979). A three dimensional model of corporate social performance. Academy of Management Review, 4, 497–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility. Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons 34(4), 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carroll, A. B., & Buchholtz, A. K. (2002). Business & society. Canada, South Western: Ethics and Stakeholder Management.Google Scholar
  5. Carroll, A. B., & Schwartz, C. A. B. (2003). Corporate social responsibility: A three domain approach. Business Ethics Quarterly, 13, 503–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carter, S. L. (1996). Integrity. New York: Basic Books, Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Caux Principles for Business 1994. Caux-Roundtable, Haque (1994). Reprinted in Georges Enderle (Ed.), International business ethics. Challenges and approaches, 1999. London: Notre Dame University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2016). Business ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. DiPiazza, S., Jr., & Eccles, R. G. (1997). Building public trust. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. European Commission. (2001). Corporate Social Responsibility. A Contribution to Sustainable development, Office for official publications of the European communities, Luxemburg 2001/EU Multi-stakeholder Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility, Office for official publications of the European communities, Luxemburg.Google Scholar
  11. Frederick, W. C. (1994). From CSR1 to CSR2: The maturing of business and society thought. In Business and society, vol 33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Habermas, J. (1981). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns I-II [Theory of communicative action I-II]. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  13. Hartman, L., & Desjardins, J. (2008). Business ethics decision-making for personal integrity and social responsibility. New York: Mcgraw-Hill Irwin.Google Scholar
  14. Jensen, I. (2000). Public relations and the public sphere in the future. Roskilde.Google Scholar
  15. Laufer, W. S. (1996). Integrity, diligence, and the limits of good corporate citizenship. American Business Law Journal, 34(2).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lütz, M. A., & Lux, K. (1979). The challenge of humanistic economics. California: Menlo Park.Google Scholar
  17. Neuman, L. W. (2003). Social science research methods. Qualitative and quantitative approaches (5th ed.). Boston and New York: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  18. Paine, L. S. (1994). Law, ethics and managerial judgment. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 12(2), 1994.Google Scholar
  19. Rendtorff, J. D. (2009). Responsibility ethics and legitimacy of corporations. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.Google Scholar
  20. Rendtorff, J. D. (2010). Power and principle in the market place: On ethics and economics. London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  21. Rendtorff, J. D. (2013). Basic concepts of philosophy of management and corporations. In Handbook of the philosophical foundations of business ethics. Christoph Luetge (Hrgs.). Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer Science + Business Media B.V., pp 1361–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rendtorff, J. D. (2014). French philosophy and social theory. A perspective for ethics and philosophy of management. Netherlands: Springer Science + Business Media B.V., (Ethical Economy, Vol. 49). New York: Springer International Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Rendtorff, J. D. (2018). Cosmopolitan business ethics : towards a global ethos of management. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Ricœur, P. (1990). Soi-même comme un autre [One-self as Another] Paris: Le Seul.Google Scholar
  25. Sen, A. (1987). On ethics and economics. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Solomon, R. C., & Flores, F. (2001). Building trust: In business, politics, and life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ulrich, P. (2008). Integrative economic ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. United States Sentencing Commission (1995). Corporate Crime in America: Strengthening the “Good Citizen” Corporation. In Proceedings of the second symposium on crime and punishment in the United States (Sept. 7–8). Washington DC: United States Federal Sentencing Commission.Google Scholar
  30. United States Sentencing Commission (2017). Federal sentencing guidelines, Chapter Eight, Sentencing Organizations.
  31. Verstraeten, J. (2000). Business ethics. Broadening the perspective, Leuven/Paris: Peters.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Roskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

Personalised recommendations