The rhetoric of corporate social responsibility: strategies of legitimization among Asian firms

Itziar Castelló Molina, Roberto Nolan Galang

Producció científica: Contribució a una conferènciaContribució


This article looks into the identification of the legitimacy strategies used by companies in Asia. Through a discourse analysis of more than 750 projects presented to the Asian CSR Awards we firstly acknowledge the homogeneity of the discourse used by companies of all sorts to legitimize their actions. We distinguish two main argumentation repertoires, one based on a symbolic logic and a second based on a managerial logic. We argue that the two argumentation repertoires are used in confrontation that mirrors the paradoxes of managing sustainability projects. The firm rhetoric reproduces the distance between the output oriented legitimacy (through the managerial rhetoric) and the input oriented (through the symbolic rhetoric). We also observe that each type of rhetoric has evolved over the past 6 years in a way that we can trace the trends in the management of sustainability projects. Finally, we acknowledge differences in the argumentation repertoires depending on the organization characteristics. Each type of company manages its rhetoric to serve their legitimacy needs. On the one hand, local and small organizations tend to use a more managerial discourse as their legitimacy need is centered in the maintaining of the license to operate. On the other hand, global and large corporations legitimize themselves through a more symbolic discourse appealing at the importance of stakeholder engagement, partnerships and sustainability. This might be a sign of their need to still gain their license to operate.
Idioma originalAnglès
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 6 d’ag. 2010
Publicat externament
Esdeveniment2010 Academy of Management Annual Meeting -
Durada: 6 d’ag. 201010 d’ag. 2010


Conferència2010 Academy of Management Annual Meeting


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