Why Do Corporate Actors Engage in Pro-Social Behavior? A Bourdieusian Perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility
University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 319
49 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2011 Last revised: 5 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 17, 2012
Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social practice this paper develops a novel approach to the study of CSR. According to this approach, pro-social activities are conceptualized as social practices that are employed by individual managers in their personal struggles for social power. Whether such practices are enacted or not depends on the (1) particular features of the social field in which the managers are embedded, (2) the individual managers’ socially shaped dispositions and (3) their respective stock of different forms of capital. By combing these three concepts the Bourdieusian approach provides a particularly fruitful theoretical lens on CSR phenomena, not least as this allows reconciling seemingly competing conceptualizations in the existing CSR literature such as economic vs. non-economic motivation as drivers of CSR activity, micro- vs. macro-level explanations and voluntaristic vs. deterministic views of managers’ behaviors.
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, pro-social behavior, Bourdieu, power, economic calculus, instrumental approach, political approach, practice theory
JEL Classification: B13, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation