Where has research on CSR taken us so far? And where do we go from there?

Corporate Social Responsibility Research in the Journal of Management Studies: A Shift from a Business-Centric to a Society-Centric Focus

Christopher Wickert
Associate Professor in Ethics & Sustainability I VU Center for Business & Society

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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