Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Authenticity: An Existential Perspective.

  • Oyinkansola Ige

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Socially oriented products, campaigns, or communications perceived as authentic by stakeholders are more likely to lead to positive outcomes. However, most research on companies' pro-social initiatives, conceptualises authenticity in ways that assume that authenticity resides entirely in the object (the CSR initiative) rather than the subject (the stakeholder).

The problem with relegating stakeholders to mere evaluators of the authenticity of the pro-social initiative is that it fails to acknowledge that authenticity is an experiential construct, not just a perceptual one. One of the main reasons stakeholders care about companies' pro-social initiatives is that they are concerned about their authenticity. To get to the heart of authenticity in CSR, one needs to understand the conditions that make stakeholders feel authentic when interacting with a company's pro-social initiatives. This study investigates the individual's experience of authenticity while participating in pro-social initiatives.

This thesis consists of a portfolio of three research papers, with respective perspectives of CSR authenticity from an experiential perspective. The first paper examines the conditions under which individuals feel themselves to be authentic when they interact with an organisation's pro-social initiatives. The second paper explores how an authentic CSR experience enhances sustained participation in pro-social initiatives. The third paper looks into how local community members manage and negotiate intrinsic tensions while participating in pro-social initiatives.

Using an interpretive case-study approach and drawing upon existential authenticity, this thesis portfolio theoretically extends existing CSR authenticity literature with an existential lens to understand CSR authenticity from an individual’s perspective. Practically, it identifies explanations regarding the conditions that make for an authentic CSR experience and the implications of such experiences. This research aims to contribute theoretical and practical knowledge that produces purposefulness in academic/practitioner collaborative research. Thus, it will increase levels of relevance and impact to bridge the divide between theory and practice.

Date of Award1 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndrew Crane (Supervisor) & Pierre McDonagh (Supervisor)



Cite this