Behind the Mask: Revealing the True Face of Corporate Citizenship

Dirk Matten, Andrew Crane, Wendy Chapple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

250 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper traces the development of corporate citizenship as a way of framing business and society relations, and critically examines the content of contemporary understandings of the term. These conventional views of corporate citizenship are argued to contribute little or nothing to existing notions of corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy. The paper then proposes a new direction, which particularly exposes the element of "citizenship". Being a political concept, citizenship can only be reasonably understood from that theoretical angle. This suggests that citizenship consists of a bundle of rights conventionally granted and protected by governments of states. However, the more that governmental power and sovereignty have come under threat, the more that relevant political functions have gradually shifted towards the corporate sphere - and it is at this point where "corporate" involvement into "citizenship" becomes an issue. Consequently, "corporate citizens" are substantially more than fellow members of the same community who cosily rub shoulders with other fellow citizens while bravely respecting those other citizens' rights and living up to their own responsibility as corporations - as the conventional rhetoric wants us to believe. Behind this relatively innocuous mask then, the true face of corporate citizenship suggests that the corporate role in contemporary citizenship is far more profound, and ultimately in need of urgent reappraisal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume45
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003

Keywords

  • Business and government
  • Corporate citizenship
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Globalization
  • Human rights
  • Stakeholder theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

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