Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

State Power: Rethinking the Role of the State in Political Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Judith Schrempf-Stirling


Key accomplishments of political corporate social responsibility (CSR) scholarship have been the identification of global governance gaps and a proposal how to tackle them. Political CSR scholarship assumes that the traditional roles of state and business have eroded, with states losing power and business gaining power in a globalized world. Consequently, the future of CSR lies in political CSR with new global governance forms which are organized by mainly non-state actors. The objective of the paper is to deepen our understanding of political CSR and reintegrate notions of state power into political CSR scholarship by highlighting how states (1) set the context within which business takes place, (2) regulate offshore business practices, and (3) play pivotal roles in new global governance mechanisms.


Political corporate social responsibility Globalization Foreign direct liability Global governance 


  1. Aaronson, S. A., & Higham, I. (2013). “Re-righting Business”: John Ruggie and the struggle to develop international human rights standards for transnational firms. Human Rights Quarterly, 35(2), 333–364.Google Scholar
  2. Ashforth, B. E., & Gibbs, B. W. (1990). The double-edge of organizational legitimation. Organization Science, 1(2), 177–194.Google Scholar
  3. Avi-Yonah, R. S. (2003). National regulation of multinational enterprises: An essay on comity, extraterritoriality, and harmonization. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 42, 5–34.Google Scholar
  4. Ayers, I., & Braithwaite, J. (1992). Responsive regulation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bäckstrand, K. (2006). Multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development: Rethinking legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness. European Environment, 16(5), 290–306.Google Scholar
  6. Bakan, J. (2004). The corporation. The pathological pursuit of profit and power. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Banerjee, S. B. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: The good, the bad and the ugly. Critical Sociology, 34(1), 51–79.Google Scholar
  8. Beck, U. (2000). What is globalization?. New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Bernaz, N. (2013). Enhancing corporate accountability for human rights violations: Is extraterritoriality the magic potion? Journal of Business Ethics, 117(3), 493–511.Google Scholar
  10. Blowfield, M., & Frynas, J. G. (2005). Editorial Setting new agendas: Critical perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility in the developing world. International Affairs, 81(3), 499–513.Google Scholar
  11. Boddewyn, J., & Doh, J. (2011). Global strategy and the collaboration of MNEs, NGOs, and governments for the provisioning of collective goods in emerging markets. Global Strategy Journal, 1(3–4), 345–361.Google Scholar
  12. Börzel, T. A. & Hönke, J. (2011). From compliance to practice. Mining companies and the voluntary principles on security and human rights in the democratic Republic of Congo. SFB Working Papers No. 25; Sonderforschungsbereich 700, Freie Universität Berlin.Google Scholar
  13. Börzel, T. A., Hönke, J., & Thauer, C. R. (2012). Does it really take the state? Business and Politics, 14(3), 1–34.Google Scholar
  14. Bowen, H. R. (1953). Social responsibilities of the businessman. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  15. Brenkert, G. C. (2009). Google, human rights, and moral compromise. Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 453–478.Google Scholar
  16. Brenner, N. (1998). Global cities, global states. Review of International Economy, 5(1), 1–37.Google Scholar
  17. Brenner, N. (1999). Globalisation as reterritorialisation. Urban Studies, 36(3), 431–451.Google Scholar
  18. Breslin, B., Ezickson, D., & Kocoras, J. (2010). The Bribery Act 2010: Raising the bar above the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Company Lawyer, 31(11), 144–1027.Google Scholar
  19. Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons, 34(4), 39–48.Google Scholar
  20. Carroll, A. B., & Buchholtz, A. K. (2000). Business and society. Cincinnati: South-Western College.Google Scholar
  21. Chambers, R., & Tyler, K. (2014). The UK context for business and human rights. In L. Blecher, N. K. Stafford, & G. C. Bellamy (Eds.), Corporate responsibility for human rights impacts. New expectations and paradigms (pp. 301–330). Chicago, IL: ABA Book Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2004). Business ethics—A European perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Crane, A., Matten, D., & Moon, J. (2004). Stakeholders as citizens? Rethinking rights, participation, and democracy. Journal of Business Ethics, 53(1–2), 107–122.Google Scholar
  24. Crane, A., Matten, D., & Moon, J. (2008). Corporations and citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Davis, K. (1960). Can business afford to ignore social responsibilities? California Management Review, 2, 70–76.Google Scholar
  26. De Bakker, F. G., Groenewegen, P., & Den Hond, F. (2005). A bibliometric analysis of 30 years of research and theory on corporate social responsibility and corporate social performance. Business and Society, 44(3), 283–317.Google Scholar
  27. De Jonge, A. (2011). Transnational corporations and international law. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  28. De Schutter, O. (2006). Extraterritorial Jurisdiction as a tool for improving the Human Rights Accountability of Transnational Corporations,.
  29. den Hond, F., Rehbein, K. A., de Bakker, F., & Kooijmans-van Lankveld, H. (2014). Playing on two chessboards. Journal of Management Studies, 51, 790–813.Google Scholar
  30. Detomasi, D. A. (2007). The multinational corporation and global governance: Modelling global public policy networks. Journal of Business Ethics, 71(3), 321–334.Google Scholar
  31. Djelic, M.-L., & Etchanchu, H. (2015). Contextualizing Corporate Political Responsibilities: Neoliberal CSR in Historical Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2879-7.
  32. Doh, J., & Guay, T. (2004). Globalization and corporate social responsibility: How non-governmental organizations influence labor and environmental codes of conduct. Management International Review, 44(2), 7–29.Google Scholar
  33. Drimmer, J. C., & Lamoree, S. R. (2011). Think globally, sue locally: Trends and out-of-court tactics in transnational tort actions. Berkeley Journal of International Law, 29(2), 456–527.Google Scholar
  34. Drucker, P. F. (1954). The responsibilities of management. Harper’s Magazine, 209(1254), 67–72.Google Scholar
  35. Eells, R., & Walton, C. C. (1961). Conceptual foundations of business. Homewood, Il: Richard D. Irwin.Google Scholar
  36. Elms, H., & Phillips, R. A. (2009). Private security companies and institutional legitimacy: Corporate and stakeholder responsibility. Business Ethics Quarterly, 19(3), 403–432.Google Scholar
  37. Enneking, L. F. (2014). The future of foreign direct liability? Exploring the international relevance of the Dutch Shell Nigeria case. Utrecht Law Review, 10(1), 44–54.Google Scholar
  38. Etzion, D., & Ferraro, F. (2010). The role of analogy in the institutionalization of sustainability reporting. Organization Science, 21(5), 1092–1107.Google Scholar
  39. Fleming, P., & Jones, M. T. (2013). The end of corporate social responsibility. Crisis and critique. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Fooks, G., Gilmore, A., Collin, J., Holden, C., & Lee, K. (2013). The limits of corporate social responsibility: Techniques of neutralization, stakeholder management and political CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 112(2), 283–299.Google Scholar
  41. Fort, T. L., & Schipani, C. A. (2004). The role of business in fostering peaceful societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Frynas, J. G., & Stephens, S. (2014). Political corporate social responsibility: Reviewing theories and setting new agendas. International Journal of Management Reviews, 17(4), 483–509.Google Scholar
  43. Gond, J.-P., Kang, N., & Moon, J. (2011). The government of self-regulation: On the comparative dynamics of corporate social responsibility. Economy and Society, 40(4), 640–671.Google Scholar
  44. Habermas, J. (1996). Between facts and norms. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Hamann, R., Sinha, P., Kapfudzaruwa, F., & Schild, C. (2009). Business and human rights in South Africa: An analysis of antecedents of human rights due diligence. Journal of Business Ethics, 87(2), 453–473.Google Scholar
  46. Héritier, A., & Eckert, S. (2008). New modes of governance in the shadow of hierarchy: Self-regulation by industry in Europe. Journal of Public Policy, 28(01), 113–138.Google Scholar
  47. Héritier, A., & Lehmkuhl, D. (2008). The shadow of hierarchy and new modes of governance. Journal of Public Policy, 28(01), 1–17.Google Scholar
  48. Herzberg, A. (2014). Kiobel and corporate complicity—Running with the pack. American Journal of International Law Unbound, 107, e41–e47.Google Scholar
  49. Hönke, J. (2014). Transnational companies and security governance. Hybrid practices in a postcolonial world. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Hudon, M., & Sandberg, J. (2013). The ethical crisis in microfinance: Issues, findings, and implications. Business Ethics Quarterly, 23(4), 561–589.Google Scholar
  51. Hussain, W., & Moriarty, J. (2016). Accountable to whom? Rethinking the role of corporations in political CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 1–16. doi: 10.1007/s10551-016-3027-8.
  52. Idahosa, P. (2002). Business ethics and development in conflict (zones): The case of Talisman Oil. Journal of Business Ethics, 39(3), 227–246.Google Scholar
  53. Ite, U. E. (2004). Multinationals and corporate social responsibility in developing countries: A case study of Nigeria. Corporate Social-Responsibility and Environmental Management, 11(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
  54. Jackson, J. R. (2009, September). Alien Tort Claims Act cases keep coming. The National Law Journal.Google Scholar
  55. Jägers, N., Jesse, K., & Verschuuren, J. (2014). The future of corporate liability for extraterritorial human rights abuses: The Dutch case against Shell. American Journal of International Law Unbound, 107, e36–e40.Google Scholar
  56. Kaeb, C., & Scheffer, D. (2013). The paradox of Kiobel in Europe. American Journal of International Law, 107(4), 852–857.Google Scholar
  57. Kobrin, S. J. (2009). Private political authority and public responsibility: Transnational politics, transnational firms, and human rights. Business Ethics Quarterly, 19(3), 349–374.Google Scholar
  58. Leval, P. N. (2013). The long arm of international law: Giving victims of human rights abuses their day in court. Foreign Affairs, 92, 19–21.Google Scholar
  59. Maguire, S., & Hardy, C. (2009). Discourse and deinstitutionalization: The decline of DDT. Academy of Management Journal, 52(1), 148–178.Google Scholar
  60. Maguire, S., Hardy, C., & Lawrence, T. B. (2004). Institutional entrepreneurship in emerging fields: HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy in Canada. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 657–679.Google Scholar
  61. Mäkinen, J., & Kasanen, E. (2014). Boundaries between business and politics: A study on the division of moral labor. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2419-x.
  62. Mason, C., & Simmons, J. (2014). Embedding corporate social responsibility in corporate governance: A stakeholder systems approach. Journal of Business Ethics, 119(1), 77–86.Google Scholar
  63. Matten, D., & Crane, A. (2005). Corporate citizenship: Toward an extended theoretical conceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 166–179.Google Scholar
  64. McCorquoale, R. (2014). International human rights law perspectives on the UN Framework and Guiding principles on Business and Human Rights. In L. Blecher, N. K. Stafford, & G. C. Bellamy (Eds.), Corporate responsibility for human rights impacts. New expectations and paradigms (pp. 51–78). Chicago, IL: ABA Book Publishing.Google Scholar
  65. McCorquodale, R. (2009). Corporate social responsibility and international human rights law. Journal of Business Ethics, 87(2), 385–400.Google Scholar
  66. McCorquodale, R. (2013). Waving not drowning: Kiobel outside the United States. American Journal of International Law, 107(4), 846–851.Google Scholar
  67. Mena, S., & Palazzo, G. (2012). Input and output legitimacy of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(03), 527–556.Google Scholar
  68. Misangyi, V. F., Weaver, G. R., & Elms, H. (2008). Ending corruption: The interplay among institutional logics, resources, and institutional entrepreneurs. Academy of Management Executive Review, 33(3), 750–770.Google Scholar
  69. Moog, S., Spicer, A., & Böhm, S. (2015). The Politics of multi-stakeholder initiatives: The crisis of the Forest Stewardship Council. Journal of Business Ethics, 128, 469–493.Google Scholar
  70. Moon, J., & Vogel, D. (2008). Corporate social responsibility, government, and civil society. In A. Crane, et al. (Eds.), Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility (pp. 303–323). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Muchlinski, P. (2012). Implementing the new UN corporate human rights framework: Implications for corporate law, governance, and regulation. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(1), 145–177.Google Scholar
  72. Muchlinski, P., & Rouas, V. (2014). Foreign direct-liability litigation. In L. Blecher, N. K. Stafford, & G. C. Bellamy (Eds.), Corporate responsibility for human rights impacts. New expectations and paradigms (pp. 51–78). Chicago, IL: ABA Book Publishing.Google Scholar
  73. Nelson, R. T. (2000). “Roast Starbucks” group says. Times: Seattle. D2.Google Scholar
  74. Newell, P., & Frynas, J. G. (2007). Beyond CSR? Business, poverty and social justice: An introduction. Third World Quarterly, 28(4), 669–681.Google Scholar
  75. Norman, W. (2011). Business ethics as self-regulation: Why principles that ground regulations should be used to ground beyond-compliance norms as well. Journal of Business Ethics, 102(1), 43–57.Google Scholar
  76. OECD. (2000). OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises: Statements made on the adoption of the review 2000.Google Scholar
  77. Oliver, C. (1992). The antecedents of deinstitutionalization. Organization Studies, 13(4), 563–588.Google Scholar
  78. Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 66(1), 71–88.Google Scholar
  79. Ramasastry, A. (2015). Corporate social responsibility versus business and human rights: Bridging the gap between responsibility and accountability. Journal of Human Rights, 14(2), 237–259.Google Scholar
  80. Rasche, A. (2010). Collaborative governance 2.0. Corporate Governance, 10(4), 500–511.Google Scholar
  81. Reinecke, J., & Ansari, S. (2015). Taming Wicked Problems: The role of framing in the construction of corporate social responsibility. Journal of Management Studies. doi: 10.1111/joms.12137.
  82. Rosenau, J. N., & Czempiel, E.-O. (Eds.). (1992). Governance without government: Order and change in world politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Ruggie, J. G. (2011) Guiding principles on business and human rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework. Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.
  84. Ruggie, J. G. (2013b). Just business: Multinational corporations and human rights (Norton Global Ethics Series). New York: WW Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  85. Sanger, A. (2014). Corporations and transnational litigation: Comparing Kiobel with the Jurisprudence of English courts. American Journal of International Law Unbound, 107, e23–e29.Google Scholar
  86. Santoro, M. A. (2009). China 2020: How western business can—And should—Influence social and political change in the coming decade. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Santoro, M. A. (2015). Business and human rights in historical perspective. Journal of Human Rights, 14(2), 155–161.Google Scholar
  88. Schepers, D. H. (2010). Challenges to legitimacy at the Forest Stewardship Council. Journal of Business Ethics, 92(2), 279–290.Google Scholar
  89. Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2007). Toward a political conception of corporate responsibility—Business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1096–1120.Google Scholar
  90. Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2008). Globalization and corporate social responsibility. In A. Crane, et al. (Eds.), Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility (pp. 413–431). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2011). The new political role of business in a globalized world—A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance, and democracy. Journal of Management Studies, 48(4), 899–931.Google Scholar
  92. Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Baumann, D. (2006). Global rules and private actors: Toward a new role of the transnational corporation in global governance. Business Ethics Quarterly, 16, 505–532.Google Scholar
  93. Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Matten, D. (2009). Introduction to the special issue. Business Ethics Quarterly, 19(3), 327–347.Google Scholar
  94. Schrempf, J. (2014). A social connection approach to corporate responsibility: The case of the fast-food industry and obesity. Business and Society, 53(2), 300–332.Google Scholar
  95. Schrempf-Stirling, J., & Palazzo, G. (2016). Upstream corporate social responsibility: From contract responsibility to full producer responsibility. Business and Society, 55(4), 491–527.Google Scholar
  96. Schrempf-Stirling, J., & Wettstein, F. (2015). Beyond Guilty Verdicts: Human Rights Litigation and its Impact on Corporations’ Human Rights Policies. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2889-5.
  97. Schuler, D. A. (2012). A club theory approach to voluntary social programs: Multinational companies and the extractive industries transparency initiative. Business and Politics, 14(3), 1–24.Google Scholar
  98. Slager, R., Gond, J. P., & Moon, J. (2012). Standardization as institutional work: The regulatory power of a responsible investment standard. Organization Studies, 33(5–6), 763–790.Google Scholar
  99. Sornarajah, M. (2001). Linking state responsibility for certain harms caused by corporate nationals abroad to civil recourse in the legal systems of home states. In C. Scott (Ed.), Torture as Tort: Comparative perspectives on the development of transnational human rights litigation (pp. 491–512). Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  100. Steen Knudsen, J. & Brown, D. (2012). Why governments intervene: Mixed motives for public policies on CSR. Accessed September 6, 2013, from
  101. Steinhardt, R. G. (2001). Litigating corporate responsibility. Global Dimensions, 1, Accessed October 31 2009, October 31 2009).
  102. Steinhardt, R. G. (2013). Kiobel and the weakening of precedent: A long walk for a short drink. American Journal of International Law, 107(4), 841–845.Google Scholar
  103. Stephens, B. (2014). Human rights litigation in U.S. courts against individuals and corporations. In L. Blecher, N. K. Stafford, & G. C. Bellamy (Eds.), Corporate responsibility for human rights impacts. New expectations and paradigms (pp. 179–199). Chicago: ABA Book Publishing.Google Scholar
  104. Stewart, D. P., & Wuerth, I. (2013). Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.: The Supreme Court and the Alien Tort Statute. American Journal of International Law, 107(3), 601–621.Google Scholar
  105. Strange, S. (1996). The retreat of the state: The diffusion of power in the world economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  106. United Nations (2011). Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  107. United Nations Environmental Programme. (2011). Corporate social responsibility and regional trade and investment agreements. Geneva: UNEP.Google Scholar
  108. Utting, P., & Marques, J. C. (2010). Introduction: The intellectual crisis of CSR. In P. Utting & J. C. Marques (Eds.), Corporate social responsibility and regulatory governance: Towards inclusive development? (pp. 1–49). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  109. Vogel, D. (2008). Private global business regulation. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 261–282.Google Scholar
  110. Vogel, D. (2010). The private regulation of global corporate conduct achievements and limitations. Business and Society, 49(1), 68–87.Google Scholar
  111. Vogt, J. S. (2014). Trade and investment arrangements and labor rights. In L. Blecher, N. K. Stafford, & G. C. Bellamy (Eds.), Corporate responsibility for human rights impacts. New expectations and paradigms (pp. 121–175). Chicago, IL: ABA Book Publishing.Google Scholar
  112. Voiculescu, A. (2009). Human rights and the new corporate accountability: Learning from recent developments in corporate criminal liability. Journal of Business Ethics, 87(2), 419–432.Google Scholar
  113. Waddock, S. (2008). Building a new institutional infrastructure for corporate responsibility. Academy of Management Perspectives, 22(3), 87–108.Google Scholar
  114. Wettstein, F. (2009). Multinational corporations and global justice: Human rights obligations of a quasi-governmental institution. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  115. Wettstein, F. (2012). CSR and the debate on business and human rights: Bridging the great divide. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(04), 739–770.Google Scholar
  116. Wettstein, F. (2015). Normativity, ethics, and the UN guiding principles on business and human rights: A critical assessment. Journal of Human Rights, 14(2), 162–182.Google Scholar
  117. Whelan, G. (2012). The political perspective of corporate social responsibility: A critical research agenda. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(4), 709–737.Google Scholar
  118. Whitney, T. (2015). Conflict minerals, black markets, and transparency: The legislative background of Dodd-Frank Section 1502 and its historical lessons. Journal of Human Rights, 14(2), 183–200.Google Scholar
  119. Williams, O. F. (2004). The UN global compact: The challenge and the promise. Business Ethics Quarterly, 14(4), 755–774.Google Scholar
  120. Williams, C., & Conley, J. (2005). Is there an emerging fiduciary duty to consider human rights? University of Cincinnati Law Review, 74(1), 75–104.Google Scholar
  121. Young, I. M. (2004). Responsibility and global labor justice. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 12(4), 365–388.Google Scholar
  122. Zerk, J. A. (2006). Multinationals and corporate social responsibility. Limitations and opportunities in international law. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robins School of BusinessUniversity of RichmondRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations