Corporate Social Responsibility in Challenging and Non-enabling Institutional Contexts: Do Institutional Voids matter?

Journal of Business Ethics 134 (1):135-153 (2016)
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Abstract

The extant literature on comparative Corporate Social Responsibility often assumes functioning and enabling institutional arrangements, such as strong government, market and civil society, as a necessary condition for responsible business practices. Setting aside this dominant assumption and drawing insights from a case study of Fidelity Bank, Nigeria, we explore why and how firms still pursue and enact responsible business practices in what could be described as challenging and non-enabling institutional contexts for CSR. Our findings suggest that responsible business practices in such contexts are often anchored on some CSR adaptive mechanisms. These mechanisms uniquely complement themselves and inform CSR strategies. The CSR adaptive mechanisms and strategies, in combination and in complementarity, then act as an institutional buffer, which enables firms to successfully engage in responsible practices irrespective of their weak institutional settings. We leverage this understanding to contribute to CSR in developing economies, often characterised by challenging and non-enabling institutional contexts. The research, policy and practice implications are also discussed.

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