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Theorizing Transnational Corporations as Social Actors: An Analysis of Corporate Motivations


  • Brown Dana L

    (University of Oxford)

  • Vetterlein Antje

    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Roemer-Mahler Anne

    (Oxford University)


An increasing number of firms are engaging in social and environmental initiatives beyond their core business activities. While much has been written about why business should spend resources on social and environmental causes, relatively few studies have systematically addressed the question of why certain companies actually do engage in such activities. A notable exception is literature on the 'business case' for corporate social responsibility, which argues that good social and environmental performance will positively affect a company's financial results. The evidence on this link, however, is mixed. Even if there is an economic rationale, it is not clear why some companies engage in social activities while others do not. And, why do many more companies today 'see' the business case than in the past? This paper maps out the theoretical terrain exploring this question and categorizes the various existing explanations for corporate social engagement.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown Dana L & Vetterlein Antje & Roemer-Mahler Anne, 2010. "Theorizing Transnational Corporations as Social Actors: An Analysis of Corporate Motivations," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-39, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:12:y:2010:i:1:n:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Corrie Mazereeuw-van der Duijn Schouten & Johan Graafland & Muel Kaptein, 2014. "Religiosity, CSR Attitudes, and CSR Behavior: An Empirical Study of Executives’ Religiosity and CSR," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 437-459, September.
    2. Hofferberth Matthias, 2011. "The Binding Dynamics of Non-Binding Governance Arrangements. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Cases of BP and Chevron," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(4), pages 1-32, December.
    3. Florian Wettstein & Dorothea Baur, 2016. "“Why Should We Care about Marriage Equality?”: Political Advocacy as a Part of Corporate Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 138(2), pages 199-213, October.
    4. Fichter Michael & Stevis Dimitris & Helfen Markus, 2012. "Bargaining for corporate responsibility: The global and the local of framework agreements in the USA," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(3), pages 1-31, October.
    5. Büthe Tim, 2010. "Private Regulation in the Global Economy: A (P)Review," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(3), pages 1-40, October.
    6. Jette Knudsen, 2013. "The Growth of Private Regulation of Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains: Mission Impossible for Western Small- and Medium-Sized Firms?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 387-398, October.
    7. van der Ven Hamish, 2014. "Socializing the C-suite: why some big-box retailers are “greener” than others," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 31-63, April.
    8. Santos Nicholas J.C. & Laczniak Gene R., 2012. "Marketing to the Base of the Pyramid: A Corporate Responsibility Approach with Case Inspired Strategies," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-44, April.
    9. Sakarya, Sema & Bodur, Muzaffer & Yildirim-Öktem, Özlem & Selekler-Göksen, Nisan, 2012. "Social alliances: Business and social enterprise collaboration for social transformation," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(12), pages 1710-1720.
    10. Brigitte Aoko Odipo & Agnes W. Njeru, 2016. "To Examine the Influence of Market Place as a Factor of Corporate Social Responsibility on Competitive Advantage within Pharmaceutical Companies in Kenya," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 6(7), pages 130-141, July.

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