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This article was originally published as:

Croker, N. C., & Barnes, L. R. (2017). Epistemological development of corporate social responsibility: The evolution continues. Social Responsibility Journal, 13(2), 279-291. doi:10.1108/SRJ-02-2016-0029

ISSN: 1747-1117


150106 Sustainability Accounting and Reporting

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Purpose: This paper investigates the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) / Corporate Social Performance (‘CSR /CSP’) from its inception to 2013, in the literature.


Design/Method: Using a bibliometric technique, we examine CRSs epistemological orientation and 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.


Findings: The article reviews 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. We find that the progression of the CSR construct is both variegational and progressive and identify that the predominant theoretical theme is based on stakeholder theory.

Research limitations/implications

Research Implication: The results of this research, identifying 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.


Originality: 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: Emerald Publishing Limited and the author.

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2017

The article available for download is the author accepted version of this article. The final published version of this article may be accessed from the publisher here.