How corporate social performance is institutionalised within the governance structure

Journal of Business Ethics 74 (2):177-189 (2007)
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Since Ackerman in Corporate social responsiveness, the modern dilemma (1973), pleaded for the institutionalisation of corporate social performance (CSP) in business processes, researchers have focused on the role of strategy in CSP. This article demonstrates that CSP is institutionalised within the governance structure. We will attempt to make this clear by means of a description of the Dutch system of corporate governance. Under certain circumstances Dutch companies are already bound to CSP due to prevailing legislation. A governance perspective shows that CSP is institutionalised within a company’s governance structure. “Processes of responsiveness”, since long regarded as a starting point of CSP-analysis, appear to be decision-making processes. Within these processes the expectations of the stakeholders can be institutionalised, trust can be built and interests can be incorporated. This makes CSP context-dependent. However, it is possible to analyse companies by comparing the companies’ individual governance structures. The article concludes that CSP-analysis can fruitfully extend into analysing in the role of the stakeholders in the influence-pathways that are incorporated within the governance structure.



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Frank Jan De De Graaf
Hogeschool van Amsterdam