Theorising corporate social responsibility as an essentially contested concept: Is a definition necessary? [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 89 (4):613 - 627 (2009)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become indispensable in modern business discourse; yet identifying and defining what CSR means is open to contest. Although such contestation is not uncommon with concepts found in the social sciences, for CSR it presents some difficulty for theoretical and empirical analysis, especially with regards to verifying that diverse application of the concept is consistent or concomitant. On the other hand, it seems unfeasible that the diversity of issues addressed under the CSR umbrella would yield to a singular universal definition. Gallie, an eminent philosophical scholar, proposed the essentially contested concepts (ECC) theory in 1956 to address concepts that by their very nature engender perpetual disputes. He pointed out that there are certain concepts which by their very nature are inevitably contested and prescribed seven criteria for evaluating such concepts. This article examines these criteria to discover if CSR is an essentially contested concept and in that case, to construe if such a change in perception will resolve the definitional crisis. The analysis suggests that CSR is an ECC and this explains the potential for several conceptions of CSR, however, it does not totally obviate the need for a definition of its core or common reference point, if only to ensure that the contestants are dealing with an identical subject matter.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility  essentially contested concepts  business  society  definition
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    View all 17 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    View all 12 citations

    Similar books and articles
    Vladimir Petkoski (2007). From International Corporate Responsibility to Local CSR. International Corporate Responsibility Series 3:283-295.

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    73 ( #15,623 of 1,089,154 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    3 ( #30,953 of 1,089,154 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.