The meaning and meaningfulness of corporate social initiatives

David Hess, Danielle E. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


In response to pressures to be more "socially responsible," corporations are becoming more active in global communities through direct involvement in social initiatives. Critics, however, question the sincerity of these activities and argue that firms are simply attempting to stave off stakeholder pressures without providing a corresponding benefit to society. By drawing on institutional theory and resource dependence theory, we consider what factors influence the adoption of a "meaningful" social initiative - an initiative that is sustainable and has the potential for a significant positive impact on society - as opposed to a symbolic initiative. In addition, we raise the question of how social initiatives - both meaningful and symbolic - participate in the "institutional war" over the meaning of corporate social responsibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-197
Number of pages35
JournalBusiness and Society Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Industrial relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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