Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 102, Issue 4, pp 599–621 | Cite as

Convergence Versus Divergence of CSR in Developing Countries: An Embedded Multi-Layered Institutional Lens

  • Dima Jamali
  • Ben Neville


This paper capitalizes on an institutional perspective to analyze corporate social responsibility (CSR) orientations in the Lebanese context. Specifically, the paper compiles a new theoretical framework drawing on a multi-level model of institutional flows by Scott (Institutions and organizations: ideas and interests, 2008) and the explicit/implicit CSR model by Matten and Moon (Acad Manag Rev 33(2):404–424, 2008). This new theoretical framework is then used to explore the CSR convergence versus divergence question in a developing country context. The findings highlight the usefulness of the compiled multi-layered institutional framework and the varied nuances and profound insights it offers in analyzing CSR in context. They also suggest that a cosmetic level of global convergence in explicit CSR may materialize in light of mimetic isomorphic pressures, but that the path dependence hypothesis is indeed salient in light of national history trajectories and socio-politico configurations. The findings correspond most closely to patterns of CSR crossvergence, combining elements of both convergence and divergence, and reflecting in complex hybridized CSR expressions. The findings and their implications are presented and assessed.


corporate social responsibility (CSR) institutional theory convergence divergence multinational corporations (MNCs) small and medium enterprises (SMEs) developing countries 


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The authors wish to acknowledge and express sincere thanks and appreciation to Professor Bryan Husted Professor Dirk Matten and Dr. Bijan Azad for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper. They also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their round(s) of most constructive comments. The first author also wishes to acknowledge generous funding support from the University Research Board (URB) at the American University of Beirut for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Olayan School of BusinessAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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