Discourse and Discord in CSR initiatives
Université Paris-Nanterre, France, 26 November 2021
Striking the right balance between the moral(istic) discourse of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on the one hand, and how this same discourse translates into concrete CSR initiatives on the other, remains a conundrum that many organizations grapple with. Informed by specific discursive practices (mission statements, websites, press releases, etc.), “CSR discourse” has recently become a discursive category in its own right, which reflects the development of contemporary society and how companies adapt and are perceived by it.
How a company acts within and interacts with society has evolved from one generation to the next. Often cited as the father of CSR, Howard Bowen highlights the debate between “social responsibilities and laissez-faire” stating: “social institutions and organisations which are desirable in one environment or in one stage of man’s development may be utterly inappropriate in another”. Indeed, societal discord has brought forth a number of innovative features in corporate social responsibility programs.
And yet, despite the body of discourse produced by companies to promote their ethics and values, there is a tension/discord with respect to the reality of these programs. Organizational media and communication outlets (company mission statements, websites, press releases, corporate reports…) tout CSR initiatives, which appear to quell a rising insurgency of social discord, bridging the gap between generating profit and social stewardship. However, one is forced to wonder about the efficacy of these initiatives.
This one-day conference focuses on the status of CSR as a discursive construct, that begs a multidisciplinary analysis bringing together a number of fields (linguistics, discourse analysis, economics, corporate strategy...). The conference aims to rouse a discussion about ways in which corporate discourse pertaining to CSR has blurred the lines of demarcation between what traditional for-profit activities of corporations actually are and what society deems they should be.. Such discursive constructs are informed by various fields: Some themes to be explored:
- CSR as a discursive construct;
- The role of English (as the lingua franca of the business world) in the construal of the dominant international discourse of CSR;
- Comparisons of discourse of CSR across languages and across cultures / cross-cultural ethics;
- Linguistic and discursive analyses of specific discourse practices which inform “the discourse of CSR”;
- Critical analyses of corporate citizenship, social entrepreneurship, and corporate discourse more generally;
- The discursive subcategories: e.g. the discourse of sustainable development, of diversity/equal opportunity...
Ruth Breeze, Professor in Communication, Language and Linguistics, Universidad de Navarra, Spain
Cristof Miska, Associate Professor in International business, Wirtschaftsuniversität, Vienna, Austria
Contacts: Elvis Buckwalter firstname.lastname@example.org ; Fiona Rossette email@example.com
Proposals for conference papers (title + abstract of 300-500 words) are to be sent to both Elvis Buckwalter and Fiona Rossette by June 1st 2021. Responses will be sent end of June 2021.
Languages for the conference are English and French.