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Latest evolution of academic research in corporate social responsibility: an empirical analysis


  • Enrique Bigné Alcañiz
  • Alejandro Alvarado Herrera
  • Rafael Currás Pérez
  • José Javier Rivera Alcami


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to determine whether management- and marketing-salient literature focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and related issues has evolved from 2003 to 2006, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and to learn which of three competitive epistemological evolutional views (progressive, variegational, normativist) best fits CSR evolution in both disciplines. Design/methodology/approach - Following an ex professo methodology developed by de Bakker, Groenewegen and Den Hond, a content analysis (CA)-based empirical examination of 570 papers focused on CSR and corporate social performance (CSP) published in indexed management and marketing journals between 2003 and 2006 was conducted. The selected temporal scope is equivalent, in terms of CSR published papers, to the period 1972-2002 analyzed by de Bakker et al. Three coders judged each paper by their epistemological orientation and discipline pertinence, achieving larger enough reliability coefficients. Findings - The epistemological evolution of CSR within the management and marketing literatures fits a progressive view, and both alternative evolutional perspectives, variegational and normativist, were rejected. This finding means that theoretical-oriented papers (conceptual, exploratory or predictive) prevailed over prescriptive (instrumental and normative) and descriptive articles. This qualitative evolution has been accompanied by a significant growth in the total number of CSR papers published in the broad management field from 2003 to 2006. Research limitations/implications - Judgments were mainly based on papers' abstracts, titles and keywords. Full text analyses were only done on those cases where coders had doubts. Originality/value - The research contributes to a better understanding of the role of CSR within the management and marketing disciplines, as it is the first to analyse the epistemological evolution of CSR in the academic research. The findings serve to refute the ideas that CSR research has an intrinsic normative character, is still too embryonic or has a disoriented evolution.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrique Bigné Alcañiz & Alejandro Alvarado Herrera & Rafael Currás Pérez & José Javier Rivera Alcami, 2010. "Latest evolution of academic research in corporate social responsibility: an empirical analysis," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 332-344, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:3:p:332-344

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abagail McWilliams & Donald S. Siegel & Patrick M. Wright, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategic Implications," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. Kolbe, Richard H & Burnett, Melissa S, 1991. " Content-Analysis Research: An Examination of Applications with Directives for Improving Research Reliability and Objectivity," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 243-250, September.
    3. Andy Lockett & Jeremy Moon & Wayne Visser, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility in Management Research: Focus, Nature, Salience and Sources of Influence," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 115-136, January.
    4. Baumgartner, H. & Pieters, R., 2000. "The Influence of Marketing Journals : A Citation Analysis of the Discipline and its Sub-areas," Discussion Paper 2000-123, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Belk, Russell W, 1987. " Material Values in the Comics: A Content Analysis of Comic Books Featuring Themes of Wealth," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 26-42, June.
    6. Kassarjian, Harold H, 1977. " Content Analysis in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 8-18, June.
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    Social responsibility; Company performance;


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