Theoretical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (25 – 29 April 2016)


Jeremy Moon, Velux Professor, CBS (DICM, cbsCSR)

Glen Whelan, Research Fellow, CBS (DICM, cbsCSR)

Jean-Pascal Gond, Chair of CSR, Cass Business School, City University London, UK

Course coordinator 
Jeremy Moon CBS (DICM, cbsCSR)

Only registered PhD students can participate in the course.

Applicants are asked to submit a one page document together with the registration indicating the following: ‘Which theories they expect to deploy in their PhD; Why; How; and What difficulties may arise?’

Students who are accepted to the course will be expected to submit a 2,500 word essay on this same question, ‘Which theories they expect to deploy in their PhD; Why; How; and What difficulties may arise?’ by 1st April 2016.  This will also be the basis of their workshop presentation during the course on which they will get feedback from CBS faculty.

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that the student attends the whole course.


The aim is to strengthen the theoretical understanding and agility of PhD students working in the broad field of corporate social responsibility.  It does not overlap significantly with any of the extant Organization and Management Studies courses, but does at the margin with all of them e.g. organizational, political and communications theoretical perspectives on CSR are included.


The course “Theoretical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” aims at providing research students with an in-depth overview of relevant theoretical frameworks and conceptual paradigms in the broader area of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Students will learn about the theoretical relevance and framing of the concept of CSR and related concepts (e.g. corporate citizenship).

It will provide critical overviews of several key theoretical perspectives and paradigms on CSR.  The Course uses three main modes of learning.  There will be Plenary sessions combining lectures and discussion; Student presentations at which students will receive close feedback on their papers, and Workshops which will involve discussion of the application of these theories and of special topics.

Learning objectives 

After attending the Course, students should:
•    Be familiar with basic theoretical frameworks related to CSR;
•    Understand the assumptions and implications of the different theories for their own research;
•    Be able to recognize the practical implications of the theories discussed for CSR.  

Lecture plan 

The Course will be taught in a one week block 25 – 29 April 2016 at Copenhagen Business School.

Day 1
09.00 – 10.30    Welcome and Introduction (JM & J-PG)   
10.30 – 11.00    Break        
11.00 – 12.30    Historical and Theoretical Challenges in CSR? (JM) (Readings: Boswell (1983); Gond and Moon (2012); Kaplan (2014))
12.30 – 13.30    Lunch        
13.30 – 15.00    Student presentations (JM, GW, J-PG) (Readings: Student papers)
15.00 – 15.30    Break        
15.30 – 17.00    Student presentations (JM, GW, J-PG) (Readings: Student papers)
17.00    Reception         

Day 2
09.00 – 10.30    What is a theory / theoretical contribution? (JWM, J-PG) (Readings: Davis (1971) Locke and Golden-Biddle (1997); Welch et al (2011) Whetten (1989))
10.30 – 11.00    Break        
11.00 – 12.30    Student presentations (JM, GW, J-PG) (Readings: Student papers)
12.30 – 13.30    Lunch        
13.30 – 15.00    Ethical approaches to CSR (GW) (Readings: Heath (2006) Zwolinski (2007), Scherer & Palazzo (2006))
15.00 – 15.30    Break        
15.30 – 17.00    Student presentations (JM, GW, J-PG) (Readings: Student papers)

Day 3
09.00 – 10.30    Economic approaches to CSR (JM) (Readings: McWilliams (2014), Kitzmueller and Shimshack (2012))
10.30 – 11.00    Break        
11.00 – 12.30    Workshop: e.g. ethical and economic approaches compared (JM, GW) (Readings: Case study: Economic approaches to ethical issues Whelan 2012)
12.30 – 13.30    Lunch         
13.30 – 15.00    Political approaches to CSR (JM) (Readings: Gond et al (2011) Moon et al (2005); Scherer and Palazzo (2011))
15.00 – 15.30    Break        
15.30 – 17.00    Institutional approaches to CSR (JM) (Readings: Greenwood et al (2010), Matten and Moon (2008); Aguilera et al (2007); Hoffman and Moon (forthcoming))
17.30    Dinner        

Day 4
09.00 – 10.30    Considering multiple paradigms in CSR Theory (J-PG) (Readings: Burrell and Morgan (1979); Gond and Matten (2007); Hassard and Cox (2013))
10.30 – 11.00    Break        
11.00 – 12.30    Workshop: Discussing ontological pluralism in CSR Theory (J-PG, GW) (Readings: Descola (2013a[2005]) Chapters 5, Descola (2013b[2011]))
12.30 – 13.30    Lunch        
13.30 – 15.00    Post-Structural Paradigms (1) – ANT / STS perspectives on CSR (J-PG) (Readings: Bergström & Diedrich (2011), Bled (2010), Law (2008))
15.00 – 15.30    Break        
15.30 – 17.00    Workshop / Special Topic: CSR Metrics and calculative practices (J-PG) (Readings: Callon and Muniesa (2005), Giamporcaro and Gond (2015), Slager, Gond & Moon (2012))

Day 5
09.00 – 10.30    Post-Structural Paradigms (2) – Governmentality (J-PG) (Readings: Spence and Rinaldi (2014), Vallentin and Murillo (2012))
10.30 – 11.00    Break        
11.00 – 12.30    Workshop: CSR and the performativity turn (J-PG) (Readings: Gond, Cabantous, Hardy & Learmonth (2015), Gond & Palazzo (2008), Nyberg & Wright (2015))
12.30 – 13.30    Lunch        
13.30 – 15.00    Importing theories in the CSR field: The case of the Economies of Worth (JM, J-PG) (Readings: Boltanski & Thévenot (1999); Gond., Barin-Cruz, Raufflet & Charron  (2015); Patriotta, Gond & Schultz (2011); Whelan & Gond (2015))
15.00 – 16.00    Feedback and Farewell       

Course literature 

Preliminary readings
Final and updated reading list will be posted by the end of January 2016

Aguilera, R.V., D.E. Rupp, C. Williams & Ganapathi, J. (2007). Putting the S back in Corporate Social Responsibility: A Multi-level Theory of Social Change in Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 32: 836–863.

Bergström, O. & Diedrich, A. (2011) Exercising social responsibility in downsizing: Enrolling and mobilizing actors at a Swedish high-tech company. Organization Studies, 32: 897-919.

Bled, A. J. (2010) Technological choices in environmental negotiations: An actor-network analysis. Business and Society, 49(4): 570-590.  

Boltanski, L. & Thévenot, L. (1999) ‘The sociology of critical capacity’. European Journal of Social Theory, 2, 359–377.

Boswell, J. (1983) ‘The Informal Social Control of Business in Britain: 1880-1939’ Business History Review, Vol. LVII, No. 2

Burrell and Morgan (1979). Please, read the abbreviated presentation of Burrell and Morgan’s 1979 framework, pp. 49-53. In: Chapter 3. The frame of paradigm. In: C.C. Lundberg & C.A. Young (eds.) Foundations for Inquiry. Choices and trade-offs in the organizational sciences: 45-63. Stanford: Stanford University Press. (scanned copy provided).

Callon, M. & Muniesa F. (2005). Economics markets as calculative devices. Organization studies, 26, 1129–1250.

Davis, M. S. (1971) ‘That’s interesting: Towards a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology of Phenomenology’ Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1(4): 309-344.

Descola (2013a[2005]). Chapter 5. Relations with the self and relations with others. In: Beyond Nature and Culture, pp. 112-125.

Descola (2013b[2011]). The Ecology of Others. Paradigm Press.

Gond, J.-P., Cabantous, L., Hardy, N. & Learmonth, M. (2015)  What do we mean by performativity in organization studies?  The uses and abuses of performativity.  International Journal of Management Reviews (Published online).

Gond, J.-P. & Palazzo, G. (2008) The social construction of the (positive) relationship between corporate social and financial performance. In: Best Papers and Proceedings of the Academy of Management.

Gond, J-P, N Kang and JM (2011) ‘The government of self-regulation: on the comparative dynamics of corporate social responsibility’ Economy and Society 40 4 640 – 671

Gond, J. P. & Matten, D. 2007. ‘Rethinking the Business –Society Interface: Beyond the Functionalist Trap.’ ICCSR Research Paper Series 47-2007, Nottingham University Business School. Available online:

Gond, J.-P., Barin-Cruz, L., Raufflet, E. & Charron, M.  2015.  To frack or not to frack?  The interaction of justification and power in a sustainability controversy.  Journal of Management Studies (Conditionally accepted for publication).

Greenwood, R., Díaz, A.M., Li, S.L. & Lorente, J.C. (2010): The Multiplicity of Institutional Logics and the Heterogeneity of Organizational Responses. Organization Science, 21, 521-539

Hassard, J. & Cox, J.W. 2013. Can sociological paradigms still inform organizational analysis? A paradigm model for post-paradigm times. Organization Studies, 34(11): 1701-1728.

Heath, Joseph. 2006. Business Ethics Without Stakeholders. Business Ethics Quarterly 16(4): 533-557.

Kitzmueller, M. and Shimshack, J. (2012) Economic Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility Journal of Economic Literature 2012, 50:1, 51–84

Locke, R. and Golden-Biddle, K. (1997) ‘Constructing opportunities for contribution: structuring intertextual coherence and troublematizing" in organizational studies’ Academy of Management Journal 40, No, 5. 1023-1062.

McWilliams, A. (2014) ‘The economic consequences of corporate social responsibility’ Introduction to The Economics of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edward Elgar

Matten, D. and Moon, J. (2008) ‘”Implicit” and “Explicit” CSR: A conceptual framework for a comparative understanding of corporate social responsibility’ Academy of Management Review 33 404 – 424

Moon, A Crane and D Matten (2004) ‘Can Corporations be Citizens: Corporate Citizenship as a Metaphor for Business Participation in Society’ Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (3) 429 - 454

Nyberg, D. & Wright, C. (2015) ‘Performative and political: corporate constructions of climate change risks’ Organization. Published online first.

Patriotta, G., Gond, J.-P. & Schultz, F. (2011) ‚Maintaining legitimacy: Controversies, orders of worth, and public justifications’ Journal of Management Studies, 48(8): 1804–1836.

Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Baumann, D. 2006. Global mies and private actors: Toward a new role of the transnational corporation in global govemance. Business Ethics Quarterly, 16(4): 505-32.

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.

Slager R., Gond, J.-P., & Moon, J. (2012). Standardization as institutional work: The regulatory power of a responsible investment standard. Organization Studies, 33(5–6), 763–790.

Spence, L. & Rinaldi, L. (2014). Governmentality in accounting and accountability: A case study of embedding sustainability ion the supply chain. Accounting, Organization and Society, 39(6): 433-452.

Vallentin, S. & Murillo, D. (2012). Governmentality and the politics of CSR. Organization, 19(6):  825-843.

Welch, C., Piekkari, R., Plakoyiannaki, E. and Paavilainen-Ma¨ntyma¨ki, E. (2011)‘Theorising from case studies: Towards a pluralist future for international business research’, Journal of International Business Studies (2011) 42, 740–762

Whelan, G. 2012. The Political Perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Critical Research Agenda. Business Ethics Quarterly 22(4): 709-737. (2.702 Impact Factor; 1 of 50 Ethics; 16 of 110 Business).

Whelan, G. & Gond, J.-P. 2015. Meat your enemy: Justification work for animal rights.  Working Paper.

Whetten, D. A (1989) What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review,  Vol. 14, No. 4, 490-495

Zwolinski, M. 2005. Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation. Business Ethics Quarterly. 17(4): 689-727.

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