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Terminology matters: a critical exploration of corporate social responsibility terms

Terminology matters: a critical exploration of corporate social responsibility terms
Terminology matters: a critical exploration of corporate social responsibility terms
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance and impact of terminology used to describe Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Through a review of key literature and concepts, we uncover how the economic business case has become the dominant driver behind CSR action. With reference to the literature on semiotics, connotative meaning and social marketing we explore how the terminology itself may have facilitated this co-opting of an ethical concept by economic interests. The broader issue of moral muteness and its relation to ethical behaviour is considered. We conclude by proposing a number of important attributes for any proposed terminology relating to ethical/socially responsible/sustainable business.
corporate social responsibility, ethical footprint, instrumental CSR, moral muteness, semiotics, terminology
0167-4544
615-627
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5
Harwood, I.A.
8f945742-3e33-445e-9665-0f613f35fc5b
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5
Harwood, I.A.
8f945742-3e33-445e-9665-0f613f35fc5b

Baden, Denise and Harwood, I.A. (2013) Terminology matters: a critical exploration of corporate social responsibility terms. Journal of Business Ethics, 116 (3), 615-627. (doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1498-9).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance and impact of terminology used to describe Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Through a review of key literature and concepts, we uncover how the economic business case has become the dominant driver behind CSR action. With reference to the literature on semiotics, connotative meaning and social marketing we explore how the terminology itself may have facilitated this co-opting of an ethical concept by economic interests. The broader issue of moral muteness and its relation to ethical behaviour is considered. We conclude by proposing a number of important attributes for any proposed terminology relating to ethical/socially responsible/sustainable business.

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Published date: September 2013
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, ethical footprint, instrumental CSR, moral muteness, semiotics, terminology
Organisations: HRM and Organisational Behaviour

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 342316
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/342316
ISSN: 0167-4544
PURE UUID: a5d2f0e1-e418-4ff9-a206-81b3d89d798a
ORCID for I.A. Harwood: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8647-2169

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Aug 2012 08:32
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 01:02

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