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date: 02 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article develops a framework in which corporate social responsibility (CSR) represents the contested terrain of global governance. The rise of CSR is one of the more striking developments of recent decades in the global political economy. Calls for multinational corporations (MNCs) to demonstrate greater responsibility, transparency, and accountability are leading to the establishment of a variety of new governance structures—rules, norms, codes of conduct, and standards—that constrain and shape MNCs' behavior. CSR is thus not just a struggle over practices, but over the locus of governance authority, offering a potential path toward the transformation of stakeholders from external observers and petitioners into legitimate and organized participants in decision-making. This article points to two distinct perspectives on CSR; as a more socially embedded and democratic form of governance that emanates from civil society, or alternatively, as a privatized system of corporate governance that lacks public accountability.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, global governance, global political economy, multinational corporations, stakeholders

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