Conceptualizing data‐deliberation: The starry sky beetle, environmental system risk, and Habermasian CSR in the digital age

Business Ethics 29 (2):303-313 (2020)
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Building on an illustrative case of a systemic environmental threat and its multi‐stakeholder response, this paper draws attention to the changing political impacts of corporations in the digital age. Political Corporate Social Responsibility (PCSR) theory suggests an expanded sense of politics and corporations, including impacts that may range from voluntary initiatives to overcome governance gaps, to avoiding state regulation via corporate political activity. Considering digitalization as a stimulus, we explore potential responsibilities of corporations toward public goods in contexts with functioning governments. We show that digitalization—in the form of transparency, surveillance, and data‐sharing—offers corporations’ scope for deliberative public participation. The starry sky beetle infestation endangering public and private goods is thereby used to illustrate the possibility of expanding the political role of corporations in the digital sphere. We offer a contribution by conceptualizing data‐deliberation as a Habermasian variation of PCSR, defined as the (a) voluntary disclosure of corporate data and its transparent, open sharing with the public sector (b) along with the cooperation with governmental institutions on data analytics methods for examining large‐scale datasets (c) thereby complying with existing national and international regulations on data protection, in particular with respect to privacy and personal data.



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Peter Seele
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (PhD)

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