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This conference proceeding was originally published as:

Croker, N., & Barnes, L. (2016, July 3-5). Epistemological development of corporate social responsibility: The evolution continues. Paper presented at the Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Gold Coast, Australia.


150199 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified| 150299 Banking, Finance and Investment not elsewhere classified| 159999 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services not elsewhere classified

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This paper investigates the Corporate Social Responsibility / Corporate Social Performance (‘CSR /CSP’) from its inception to 2013 using a bibliometric technique, to examine its epistemological orientation and to determine whether it is primarily comprised of authors building on each other’s work (‘progressive’) or by the development of alternative constructs (‘variegational’) or whether both orientations exist side-by-side within a dynamic, multidimensional concept.

The article takes as its point of departure, de Bakker, Groenewegen & den Hond’s (2005) bibliometric analysis of the epistemological evolution of the CSR concept within the management literature from 1972 to 2002 using a dataset to that time of approximately 500 articles. Since then, the evolving CSR /CSP literature has transitioned the main CSR debate from a ‘whether or not to’ to a ‘how to’ implement CSR debate and the body of literature has grown to over 8,000 articles. The research finds that the progression of the CSR construct is both variegational and progressive and identify that the predominant theoretical theme is based on stakeholder theory.

The results of this research, identify that the epistemological evolution of the CSR concept within the recent management literature can be characterized as being both variegational and progressive, adds a valuable contribution to the ongoing and increasing body of knowledge relating to CSR. The results of this study maybe of practical importance to scholars in identifying relevant foci for their future research into the CSR construct.


Used by permission: the authors and the Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand

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