Can corporations be citizens? Corporate citizenship as a metaphor for business participation in society

Jeremy Moon, Andrew Crane, Dirk Matten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Citations (SciVal)


This paper investigates whether, in theoretical terms, corporations can be citizens. The argument is based on the observation that the debate on "corporate citizenship" (CC) has only paid limited attention to the actual notion of citizenship. Where it has been discussed, authors have either largely left the concept of CC unquestioned, or applied rather uni-dimensional and decontextualized notions of citizenship to the corporate sphere. The paper opens with a critical discussion of a major contribution to the CC literature, the work of Logsdon and Wood (Wood and Logsdon 2001; Logsdon and Wood 2002). It continues with a consideration of the nature and role of metaphors for business and of the contestable nature of the political concept of citizenship. It evaluates corporations as citizens through a four-dimensional framework of democratic citizenship offered by Stokes (2002). The analysis suggests that corporations do not easily fit the "liberal minimalist" model of citizenship. It finds, however some possibilities for fit with the three more participatory models. The paper concludes by cautioning against basing corporate citizenship on legal and administrative status or identity, and mapping out specific criteria by which we might determine whether corporations could be considered as citizens by virtue of their participation in processes of governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-453
Number of pages25
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Can corporations be citizens? Corporate citizenship as a metaphor for business participation in society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this