Oliver Balch tackles key topics in academic thinking and research on sustainability
In January 2002 34 chief executives from some of the largest corporations in the world gathered in New York to sign a declaration. “Global corporate citizenship” was the natty title given to this “leadership challenge” by its originators, the prestigious World Economic Forum. Fast forward to today and there’s now a dedicated academic journal on the subject, as well as specialist research centres (at Boston College in the US and Australia’s Deakin University), not to mention a plethora of consultancies and think tanks. But what is corporate citizenship exactly, and does it differ significantly from conventional theories of CSR such as stakeholder theory and corporate social performance?
Consensus around a single conceptual definition of corporate citizenship remain contested. The fact that the term first emerged in the business community and then became adopted by management scholars, rather than vice versa, may explain its definitional fluidity. The early literature falls into one of two camps; the first equates corporate citizenship with strategic philanthropy and internal organisational values (Wood & Logsdon, 2001), while the second broadly conflates it with an externally focused, somewhat woolier equivalent of CSR (Carroll, 1998). So far, so conventional.
The story doesn’t end there, though. The first...