From Implicit to Explicit Corporate Social Responsibility: Institutional Change as a Fight for Myths

Business Ethics Quarterly 19 (3):433-451 (2009)
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Abstract

The focus of this paper is institutional change and the changing role of business in Germany. Back in the 1980s, the German institutional framework was characterized by implicit mandatory and obligatory regulations that set a clear context for responsible corporate behavior. Today, this framework has eroded and given way to a situation in which corporations explicitly and voluntarily take responsibility for social issues. This shift from implicit to explicit corporate social responsibility is an indication of a major institutional change epitomized by the deconstruction of ‘old’ and the reconstruction of ‘new’ institutions. In the course of this change, corporations, state actors, and civil society organizations compete for their ideas and interests in what we call a fight for myths. The paper traces this fight for myths and the changing understanding of corporate responsibility in Germany.

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