What does CSR do for freedom?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This article explores how freedom at work is inhibited by strategies of corporate social responsibility that, ostensibly, have freedom as a guiding principle. It analyses managers’ responsible for implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and shows how they construct emancipated identities for themselves that, counter-intuitively, may inhibit the freedoms of others. I draw on an understanding of freedom as a product of social relations and a case study of middle managers with formal CSR responsibilities in a large US retail corporation, to explore how CSR managers talk about their roles. This shows that they constitute seemingly emancipated selves that are morally agentive, reflective and privileged and free of moral and social indignities associated with corporate capitalism. This may have deleterious effects on the freedoms of others. The paper contributes a new theory of the effects of CSR in restricting freedom. That is, managers with formal CSR responsibilities, in relying on CSR to constitute emancipated identities for themselves, construct lesser freedoms for others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2022

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