Making Sense of Corporate Social Responsibility

Journal of Business Ethics 55 (2):215 - 222 (2004)
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Abstract

This paper provides preliminary insights into the process of sense-making and developing meaning with regard to corporate social responsibility (CSR) within 18 Dutch companies. It is based upon a research project carried out within the framework of the Dutch National Research Programme on CSR. The paper questions how change agents promoting CSR within these companies made sense of the meaning of CSR. How did they use language (and other instruments) to stimulate and underpin the contextual essence of CSR? Why did they do that in this particular way? What were the consequences of this approach for shaping the process of CSR in their company? Did their efforts contribute to a new way of thinking and acting or was it merely putting old wine in new barrels? A preliminary conclusion is that change agents use above all linguistic artefacts (words and notions) and carry out practical projects while constructing meaning. Still, the meaning of meaning itself remains highly intangible, situational and personality related

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