Corporate social responsibility, gender equality and organizational change: a feminist perspective

Grosser, Kate (2011) Corporate social responsibility, gender equality and organizational change: a feminist perspective. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

There is a growing literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and gender issues, which draws upon a range of feminist theory and perspectives. However,research in this field appears to have been somewhat hampered by a lack of systematic engagement with ‘gendered organizations’ studies (GOS), and with a broad range of CSR theory, in particular that related to governance. This thesis sets out to address these gaps in the literature. It opens up new dialogue between the fields of GOS and CSR. Through a review of the GOS literature this study notes a number of organizational change strategies identified by feminist scholars. With reference to these it develops a set of research questions with which to investigate the possible contribution of CSR to organizational change with regard to gender equality. These are then employed in an exploration of CSR practice, focusing on CSR reporting and stakeholder relations. Through this analysis the thesis identifies several ways in which CSR might contribute to advancing the feminist organizational change agenda. Particular attention is paid to recent developments in political theories of CSR, which regard CSR as a governance process involving business, government and civil society. Thus, the thesis addresses organizational change and gender equality in the context of new governance, and particularly CSR, and by extending the literature both empirically and conceptually produces insights for feminist studies relating to CSR theory and practice.

Noting that the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in employment, and more broadly in societal governance in many parts of the world, and the growth of CSR, research in this thesis critically engages with CSR literature and practice from a feminist perspective. The research presented assesses the importance of CSR for organizational change on gender equality through an investigation of two related questions, namely how gender equality issues are addressed within CSR practice, and how CSR might help advance organizational change on this agenda. These questions are explored through the use of nine secondary research questions in three studies involving document analysis of company reports, and semi-structured interviews with corporate managers, and with leaders of women’s NGOs. The thesis thus updates our knowledge of CSR reporting on gender equality issues, and explores the views of corporate managers about CSR and gender equality. It also investigates the views of leaders in women’s NGOs on private sector accountability for gender equality, and the field of CSR more broadly, thus engaging with a group of stakeholders not normally included in the CSR literature. The research suggests that, despite its limitations, CSR can contribute to the gender organizational change agenda in several ways, which revolve around the new governance systems which CSR presages. These include new organizational rhetoric and practices, new external drivers of change within business, and new kinds of regulation. The three studies are informed by, and contextualised with reference to the CSR literature on governance, and are ultimately brought together in a discussion of CSR as a governance process from a feminist perspective. From this vantage point the potential of CSR to facilitate organizational change suggested in this thesis appears to be underdeveloped at the present time. While recognizing many important critiques of the field, with reference to the research outcomes the thesis frames CSR as a political opportunity with regard to gender equality. The aim here is therefore to contribute not only to knowledge but also perhaps to feminist action.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Moon, J.W.
Owen, D.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
ID Code:2138
Deposited By:Dr Kate Grosser
Deposited On:31 Oct 2011 13:13
Last Modified:31 Oct 2011 13:13

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