Coalitions and Public Action in the Reshaping of Corporate Responsibility: The Case of the Retail Banking Industry

Journal of Business Ethics 173 (3):539-558 (2020)
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This paper addresses the question of whether and how public action via civil society and/or government can meaningfully shape industry-wide corporate responsibility behaviour. We explore how, in principle, ICR can come about and what conditions might be effective in promoting more ethical behaviour. We propose a framework to understand attempts to develop more responsible behaviour at an industry level through processes of negotiation and coalition building. We suggest that any attempt to meaningfully influence ICR would require stakeholders to possess both power and legitimacy; moreover, magnitude and urgency of the issue at stake may affect the ability to influence ICR. The framework is applied to the retail banking industry, focusing on post-crisis experiences in two countries—Spain and the UK—where there has been considerable pressure on the retail banking industry by civil society and/or government to change behaviours, especially to abandon unethical practices. We illustrate in this paper how corporate responsibility at the sector level in retail banking is the product of context-specific processes of negotiation between civil society and public authorities, on behalf of customers and other stakeholders, drawing on legal and other institutions to influence industry behaviour.



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