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Corporate irresponsibility and corporate social responsibility: competing realities


  • Brian Jones
  • Ryan Bowd
  • Ralph Tench


Purpose - Building on the work of Carroll this article attempts to unravel, explore and explain corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a theoretical construct that has implications and consequences for corporate governance in particular, and more generally for the economy, business and society. It aims to extend Carroll's work on definitional constructs by re-examining some of the theoretical frameworks that underpin, inform and guide CSR. Design/methodology/approach - Carroll identified different levels, or a pyramid, of CSR and these are outlined and the advantages and disadvantages of a pyramid, levels-based approach discussed. The main contributions of this article lies is in its exploration of corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) as a concept in contrast to CSR. Bowd, Jones and Tench's CSI-CSR model is described, explained, analysed and used as a conceptual tool to make the theoretical move from a pyramid or level-based approach to a more dynamic framework of analysis. Findings - The proposition that CSI is better suited to a shareholder business model and CSR sits more comfortably with a stakeholder business model is examined. It is contested that people often wrongly equate CSR with irresponsible corporate actions. The CSI-CSR model establishes a theoretical framework around which grounded empirical research can be undertaken, applied and on which it can be reported. Research limitations/implications - This is a new area of research that addresses a gap in the literature and puts forward innovative theoretical models. Discussing the concept of irresponsibility makes for an interesting theoretical move. It questions the idea that corporations and business per se are always or necessarily socially responsible. Originality/value - In looking at and developing existing theoretical models, concepts and frameworks and exploring their merits, shortcomings and limitations, the article will be of interest and relevance to the business and academic communities. If there is such a thing as CSR then the implication is that there is such a thing as CSI and it is on this issue that this article seeks to promote and stimulate discussion.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Jones & Ryan Bowd & Ralph Tench, 2009. "Corporate irresponsibility and corporate social responsibility: competing realities," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(3), pages 300-310, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:5:y:2009:i:3:p:300-310

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    Cited by:

    1. Lin-Hi, Nick & Müller, Karsten, 2013. "The CSR bottom line: Preventing corporate social irresponsibility," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1928-1936.
    2. repec:eee:jbrese:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:82-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Paolo Antonetti & Stan Maklan, 2016. "An Extended Model of Moral Outrage at Corporate Social Irresponsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 429-444, May.
    4. Jolita Vveinhardt & Egle Stonkute, 2015. "Corporate Social Responsibility as a Brand: Practical Activity or Social Hypocrisy?," International Conference on Marketing and Business Development Journal, The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, vol. 1(1), pages 9-20, July.
    5. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:46-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:cmj:seapas:y:2017:i:13:p:127-134 is not listed on IDEAS


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