Corporate Social Responsibility as Relief from Responsibility: NPO legitimizations for corporate partnerships in contested terrains

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The purpose of this paper is to get a deeper understanding how not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) discursively legitimize their corporate engagement through cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) in general, and particularly how they construct legitimacy for partnering with firms involved in the commodification of water. The paper seeks to shed light on the values embedded in these discursive accounts and the kind of societal effects and power relations they generate, and the authors are particularly interested in understanding the role of modernity in shaping their responsibilities (or lack of them) via various technologies and practices


Drawing on critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1995), the authors analyze the discursive accounts of three water-related CSPs involving the three biggest bottled water producers in the world (Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Danone) and three major non-profits (The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Wildlife Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).


The NPO’s legitimate their corporate engagement in the water CSPs through the use of two global discourses: global governance discourse and the global climate crisis discourse. Relief from responsibility is achieved through three processes: replacement of moral with technical responsibility, denial of proximity and the usage of intermediaries to whom responsibility is outsourced.


This paper explores the processes of legitimizing accounts for CSPs, particularly focusing on NPO discourse and their use of CSR elements and the consequences of such discursive constructs, and this has received little to no attention in previous research.
Referentgranskad vetenskaplig tidskriftCritical Perspectives on International Business
Sidor (från-till)2-22
Antal sidor21
StatusPublicerad - 2017
MoE-publikationstypA1 Originalartikel i en vetenskaplig tidskrift


  • 512 Företagsekonomi

Styrkeområden och områden med hög potential (AoS och AoHP)

  • AoS: Ansvarsfull organisering


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