Synthesising Corporate Responsibility on Organisational and Societal Levels of Analysis: An Integrative Perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • University of Leeds


This article develops an integrative perspective on corporate responsibility by synthesising competing perspectives on the responsibility of the corporation at the organisational and societal levels of analysis. We review three major corporate responsibility perspectives, which we refer to as economic, critical, and politico-ethical. We analyse the major potential uses and pitfalls of the perspectives, and integrate the debate on these two levels. Our synthesis concludes that when a society has a robust division of moral labour in place, the responsibility of a corporation may be economic (as suggested under the economic perspective) without jeopardising democracy and sustainability (as reported under the critical perspective). Moreover, the economic role of corporations neither signifies the absence of deliberative democratic mechanisms nor business practices extending beyond compliance (as called for under the politico-ethical perspective). The study underscores the value of integrating different perspectives and multiple levels of analysis to present comprehensive descriptions and prescriptions of the responsibility phenomenon.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589–607
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Corporate responsibility, Integrative, Multilevel, Perspective, Review, Synthesis

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