Uncovering Corporate Social Responsibility: Deparadoxation of power in the CSR-discourse
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In this study I analyze how 70 academic articles concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) deals with questions of power. Based on Michel Foucault’s discursive theory and Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory, I present a conceptualization of CSR as a discursive system. I claim that paradoxes of power are central in the development of CSR, and that second order observation is vital for the identification of such paradoxes. My analysis shows that articles published in journals related to management theory are much less aware of problems relating to power, as well as being less critical towards such issues. Nonmanagement- articles are found to identify more paradoxes, but they have lesser impact on the CSR-discourse. Power created by social order as well as power created by system bias, are found to be core issues relating to the division of power between corporations and society at large. Also frequently found to be a concern, is power created by systems of thought, indicating both a critique towards the cultural and normative influence of large corporations, as well as a strong focus on developing knowledge within the CSR-discourse. If CSR is to function as a correction of the development of corporations and society, a critical focus on all aspects of power-creation in the CSR-discourse is an important counterweight to the extensively managerial focus.