NGOs as Representatives of Public Claims

  • Dorothea BaurEmail author
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 36)


The first chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book by clarifying some of the central parameters: it provides a definition of NGOs, it specifies the addressees of NGO legitimization, and it outlines the role of NGOs in the CSR debate. As to the definition, it is argued that NGOs are actors which are inextricably linked to the public sphere by claiming to promote the public good or serving the public interest. The link to the public sphere makes NGOs an interesting research subject for political theory. After all, Western political theory has dealt with definitions of what is public and what is private for centuries. Based on a synthesis of common sense reservations about the legitimacy of NGOs and normative reflections three dimensions of the legitimacy deficit of NGOs are identified: substantive (what claims are legitimate?), structural (how do we deal with the fact that NGOs are not elected?), and procedural (what behavior is legitimate?). It is argued that NGOs, understood as actors in the public sphere, have the duty to legitimize themselves before corporations as well as civil society. Moreover, since this book is about the interaction between NGOs and corporations, it makes sense to link it to the CSR debate. It is argued that the rationale for corporations to perceive NGOs as actors who promote public claims and to care about their legitimacy can be found in the so called political strand of CSR.


NGOs as representatives of public claims Addressees of NGO legitimization Triple legitimacy deficit of NGOs Instrumental CSR Political CSR Stakeholder theory 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, Institute for Business EthicsSt. GallenSwitzerland

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