The Social Construction of the Responsible Corporate Citizen- Su 43paj

by George Shinkle Purdue University J. William Spencer Purdue University
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  Purdue University  Purdue e-Pubs Purdue CIBER Working PapersKrannert Graduate School of Management1-1-2008 Te Social Construction of the ResponsibleCorporate Citizen: Sustainability Reports of theGlobal Automotive Firms George Shinkle  Purdue University  J. William Spencer  Purdue University Follow this and additional works at:hp:// Tis document has been made available through Purdue e-Pubs, a service of the Purdue University Libraries. Please contact foradditional information. Shinkle, George and Spencer, J. William, Te Social Construction of the Responsible Corporate Citizen: Sustainability Reports of theGlobal Automotive Firms (2008).  Purdue CIBER Working Papers. Paper 56.hp://  , P-U R D U E ,. ,,. GIBER · ljl Center fo1· Tinernatiomii Businesses Edue<1tion and Research ,. .. The SocialConstruction o the espb~sible CorpQrate · ã Citizen~ Sustainability Reports o .GiobalAutom9tive Firms· · . . - -   , · Purdue Lniv.crsin· Krannc_n Buil(ling · GeorgeShinkle Purdl e University . ã ã-' ;. J. William. Spencer . Purdue University : . ; -  _ CI JIT~ or~ng Pap JrS Jries . . . 2 8~ 3 . . 403 \1? State Street \X csr-l.afaycttc,_ IN 479 17 <.XJ5 J .(765) 496 0779 Fax (765) 494 9658 I : I    1 The Social Construction of the Responsible Corporate Citizen: Sustainability Reports of Global Automotive Firms George Shinkle PhD Candidate Krannert School of Management Purdue University 403 West State Street West Lafayette, IN 47907-2056 Tel: (765) 494-4517 J. William Spencer Associate Professor of Sociology Purdue University 700 West State Street West Lafayette, IN 47907-2056 Tel: (765) 494-4677 Revision Date: May 6, 2009 Notice : This manuscript is a working paper for discussion purposes only. The paper is expected to be published in due course, in revised form and should not be cited or quoted without the author’s permission.      2 The Social Construction of the Responsible Corporate Citizen: Sustainability Reports of Global Automotive Firms   ABSTRACT The constitutive meanings of responsible corporate environmental citizenship are to be found in global discourses. We use Gubrium and Holstein‘s fram ework on interpretive practice to study the Corporate Sustainability Reports of multinational automotive companies regarding global warming. We observe three common themes  –   recognizing the issue of greenhouse gases, acknowledging stakeholders, and being role-models for society. However, these themes take on unique meanings vis-à-vis each corporate identity. We utilize our analytic findings to offer theoretic propositions regarding emergent meanings of corporate environmental citizenship. These meanings are important to understand as firm behavior will be based on these socially-constructed meanings. Key Words: automotive firms, corporate social responsibility, discourse analysis, social construction INTRODUCTION  Multinational corporations are subject to conflicting forces regarding corporate social responsibility arising from the institutional environments of world society, home country, and their global industry; as well as from stockholders and managers of the firm (Levy and Kolk, 2002; Maignan and Ralston, 2002). Claims regarding egregious corporate irresponsibility have brought increasing calls for corporations to engage in socially acceptable, ethical, and legal behavior  –   both locally and globally (Basu and Palazzo, 2008; Carroll, 1998; Le Menestrel, van den Hove, and de Bettignies, 2002). Despite public demands, there is little in the way of binding prescriptions or even shared criteria for what constitutes socially responsible  behavior on the part of multinational corporations (Nordhaus, 2001). Since the behavior of firms is derived from their interpretations of responsibility (Hajer, 1997; Laine, 2005; Pfeffer, 2005), these interpretations  become of utmost importance to understanding the corporate social responsibility choices of firms. Furthermore, to the extent that socially-constructed meanings guide the definition of corporate citizenship for all firms, theoretic understanding of these meanings and the forces which create them is essential. In order to explore how firms establish their interpretations, our central research question is:  How will firms discursively construct the meaning of corporate citizenship?
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