Integrated reporting has widely been promoted as the next evolutionary step in corporate disclosure, which would soon replace traditional reporting practices. Embedded in a zeitgeist that favors sustainability, this outlook would suggest high integrated reporting adoption rates among reporting organizations. Our analysis of integrated reporting in Germany from 2008 to 2019 shows, however, that organizations approached integrated reporting with a wait-and-see mentality. This approach cannot be described adequately by the existing conceptualizations of (partial) practice adoption. We therefore develop the notion of wait-and-see-ism, defined as the deliberate and potentially long-lasting postponement of a decision to adopt a practice while its further development is monitored silently. We see limited, though continuous, efforts to prepare for the prospect of adopting the practice of integrated reporting quickly at a later stage. Wait-and-see-ism expands on prior work on partial adoption by emphasizing its temporal dimension. This adds an important yet undertheorized option that organizations can employ to respond to ambiguous institutional demands, thus explaining the stalling of promising management practices.

Endenich C, Hahn R, Reimsbach D, Wickert C (2022). Wait-and-see-ism as partial adoption of management practices: The rise and stall of integrated reporting. Strategic Organization. doi:10.1177/14761270221078605

It’s been more than 50 years since HAL, the malevolent computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, first terrified audiences by turning against the astronauts he was supposed to protect. That cinematic moment captures what many of us still fear in AI: that it may gain superhuman powers and subjugate us. But instead of worrying about futuristic sci-fi nightmares, we should instead wake up to an equally alarming scenario that is unfolding before our eyes: We are increasingly, unsuspectingly yet willingly, abdicating our power to make decisions based on our own judgment, including our moral convictions. What we believe is “right” risks becoming no longer a question of ethics but simply what the “correct” result of a mathematical calculation is.

Moser, C., & Lindebaum, D. (2022). What Humans Lose When We Let AI Decide. MIT Sloan Management Review, 63(3), 12-14.

This review argues that the role of technology in business and society debates has predominantly been examined from the limited, narrow perspective of technology as instrumental, and that two additional but relatively neglected perspectives are important: technology as value-laden and technology as relationally agentic. Technology has always been part of the relationship between business and society, for better and worse. However, as technological development is frequently advanced as a solution to many pressing societal problems and grand challenges, it is imperative that technology is understood and analyzed in a more nuanced, critical, and comprehensive way. The two additional perspectives invite a broader research agenda, one that includes questions, such as “Which values and whose interests has technology come to emulate?”; “How do these values and interests play out in stabilizing the status quo?”; and, importantly, “How can it be contested, disrupted, and changed?” Any research that endorses green, sustainable, environmental, or climate mitigating technologies potentially contributes to maintaining the very thing that it seeks to change if questions such as these are not being addressed.

den Hond, F., & Moser, C. (2022). Useful servant or dangerous Master? Technology in Business and Society debates. Business & Society, 1–30.

Globally, standards govern and organise the production and exchange of food. This article uses insights from science and technology studies to study the translation of multiple standards in the Ghanaian pineapple industry. The data demonstrate a translation process that is best described as nesting. Nesting is the process through which producers translate multiple standards into a locally contingent network of human and nonhuman actors, which is represented materially by the perfect fruit. For nesting to take place, producers develop intra-organisational collective practices that we call: prioritising standards, enrolling additives, and creating residues. The concept of nesting explains how food producers translate multiple standards, while simultaneously regaining agency. While nesting enables us to speak about what it means to implement the multiple standards that materially embody the consumers’ vision of perfection, it also contributes to the sociology of standards, the literature on standards adoption, and organisation studies.

In  their  recent  essay,  Gond  and  Moser  (2019)  have  proposed  that  micro-CSR  research has the potential to “matter” and transform business practices as it engages closely with how individuals in companies work with and experience corporate social responsibility  (CSR).  But  can  micro-CSR  research  in  its  current  form  realize  this  transformative  potential  and  serve  social  justice?  Adopting  an  intellectual  activist  position, we argue that the transformative potential of micro-CSR is severely limited by its predominant focus on CSR as defined, presented, and promoted by companies themselves, thereby serving to sustain the hegemony of the business case for CSR, promoting  narrow  interests  and  maintaining  managerial  control  over  corporate  responsibilities. We propose that micro-CSR researchers broaden the scope of their research to cultivate the potential of alternative ideas, voices, and activities found in organizational life. In so doing we lay out a research agenda that embraces employee activism,  listens  to  alternative  voices,  and  unfolds  confrontational,  subversive,  and  covert  activities.  In  the  hope  of  inspiring  other  micro-CSR  researchers  to  explore these unconventional paths, we also offer suggestions as to how we can pursue them through empirical research.

Girschik, V., Svystunova, L., Lysova, E. I. (2022). Transforming corporate social responsibilities: Toward an intellectual activist research agenda for micro-CSR research. Human relations, 75(1) 3 –32.

https://journals-sagepub-com.vu-nl.idm.oclc.org/doi/10.1177/0018726720970275

This introduction to the Thematic Collection on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tracks the evolution of CSR research published in the Journal of Management Studies from 2006 until 2021. Alongside the mainstreaming of CSR within management studies, CSR research in JMS has progressed from a business-centric to a society-centric focus. The business-centric focus centres on the financial implications of CSR on business firms, and advocates CSR to the extent that it leads to improved financial performance or some other competitive advantage for the firm. The society-centric focus asks broader questions about the appropriate role and location of business in society and its political and institutional contexts, and it reflects a wider set of variables of interest beyond firm financial performance. Understanding this evolution is crucial because it helps to elucidate where CSR research is headed and how the role of business in society is conceptualised. Based on these developments, I outline three emergent avenues for future research: the reintegration of governments as important actors shaping CSR, the need to reorient the dependent variables used in CSR research toward tangible social and ecological outcomes, and the importance of CSR research tackling interrelated societal crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

Wickert, C. (2021). Corporate social responsibility research in the Journal of Management Studies: A shift from a business-centric to a society-centric focus. Journal of Management Studies.

 

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