The Emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility in Chile: The Importance of Authenticity and Social Networks

  • Terry Beckman
  • Alison Colwell
  • Peggy H. Cunningham


Little is known about how and why corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerged in lesser developed countries. In order to address this knowledge gap, we used Chile as a test case and conducted a series of in-depth interviews with leaders of CSR initiatives. We also did an Internet and literature search to help provide support for the findings that emerged from our data. We discovered that while there are similarities in the drivers of CSR in developed countries, there are distinct differences as well. In particular, we found that different sectors drive CSR in Chile. In contrast to other geographies where consumer demand and government regulation provided the impetus for CSR efforts, multinational companies (MNCs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are key actors in Chile. MNCs imported their CSR beliefs, skills, and processes into Chile. Their efforts resulted in a virtuous cycle. Once large domestic firms felt pressured by their MNC rivals, they too adopted CSR initiatives. The ability to manage relationships with multiple stakeholders and perceptions of authenticity were also critical to the success of CSR in Chile. Using network theory as a lens, we suggest that network density and centrality largely determine whether CSR efforts will be authentic. Based on these contentions, we suggest avenues for future research.

Key words

authenticity Chile corporate social responsibility developing countries Latin America network theory social networks 



The authors would like to thank all their informants who so generously shared their time and knowledge with us. We also extend special thanks to Rodrigo Matamala and Marianna Antonissen for their assistance with transcribing and translating the interviews from Spanish into English. We also wish to acknowledge the Queen’s School of Business Research Fund that supported this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Beckman
    • 1
  • Alison Colwell
    • 2
  • Peggy H. Cunningham
    • 3
  1. 1.School of BusinessQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Business for Social ResponsibilitySan FranciscoU.S.A.
  3. 3.School of Business Administration, Faculty of ManagementDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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