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The institutionalisation of unaccountability: Loading the dice of Corporate Social Responsibility discourse

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  • Archel, Pablo
  • Husillos, Javier
  • Spence, Crawford

Abstract

This paper reports on an in-depth empirical study into recent government-led Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in Spain. It is found, based on interviews and document analysis, that processes of stakeholder consultation relating to these initiatives are characterised by debate and a plurality of different viewpoints. However, this polyphony can be contrasted sharply with the institutional outcomes of these processes. Institutional outcomes represent the viewpoints of only a subset of the actors involved in the stakeholder consultation processes. It is consequently inferred that stakeholder consultation processes serve problematic functions: on one level, these processes legitimise dominant discourses on CSR by giving the impression that the latter are the outcome of a democratic dialogue that is free from power relations; on another level, these processes themselves show to heretic social actors the futility of their heresy and thus encourage those actors to actively adopt the dominant discourse. We conclude that business capture of Corporate Social Responsibility is ingrained into institutional processes in that domain. This raises serious questions regarding the potential for civil society actors to engage with and move the signifier of Corporate Social Responsibility in a more challenging direction.

Suggested Citation

  • Archel, Pablo & Husillos, Javier & Spence, Crawford, 2011. "The institutionalisation of unaccountability: Loading the dice of Corporate Social Responsibility discourse," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 327-343.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:36:y:2011:i:6:p:327-343
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2011.06.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David L. Levy & Daniel Egan, 2003. "A Neo‐Gramscian Approach to Corporate Political Strategy: Conflict and Accommodation in the Climate Change Negotiations," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 803-829, June.
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    3. Carlos Larrinaga & Francisco Carrasco & Carmen Correa & Fernando Llena & Jose Moneva, 2002. "Accountability and accounting regulation: the case of the Spanish environmental disclosure standard," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 723-740.
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    5. Laura Albareda & Josep Lozano & Tamyko Ysa, 2007. "Public Policies on Corporate Social Responsibility: The Role of Governments in Europe," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 74(4), pages 391-407, September.
    6. Natàlia Cantó-Milà & Josep Lozano, 2009. "The Spanish Discourse on Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 87(1), pages 157-171, April.
    7. Gray, Rob, 2010. "Is accounting for sustainability actually accounting for sustainability...and how would we know? An exploration of narratives of organisations and the planet," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 47-62, January.
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