Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 17: The rising tide of corporate accountability: deliberative and participatory methods for positive impact
Stakeholder and corporate interests often collide as communities criticize firms for adverse health and environmental outcomes, yet these same communities welcome new employment opportunities. When firms respond to criticisms effectively, however, positive developments may occur such as new fair trade and public education programs (Witkowski 2005). Nevertheless, these corporate initiatives are not always perceived as sincere, given the rise of skepticism among many consumer and stakeholder groups (Wagner et al. 2009). Similar issues persist across the areas of corporate social responsibility (e.g. Robin and Reidenbach 1987), marketing ethics (e.g. Hunt and Vitell 1986; Laczniak and Murphy 1993), societal marketing (e.g. Kotler 1972), stakeholder orientations (e.g. Ferrell and Ferrell 2008) and corporate citizenship (e.g. Maignan et al. 1999). Here, the term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is used to describe these interrelated concerns aimed at balancing firm and community interests. The goal of this chapter is to contribute to this ongoing debate on CSR by arguing for approaches that are more participatory and discursive. Thus we heed recent calls for dialogical models of CSR and emphasize the benefits of direct communications with affected stakeholders in tackling ethical dilemmas in marketing (Nill and Shultz 1997; Ozanne et al. 2009; Scherer and Palazzo 2007). Specifically, we extend Habermasian discursive ethics to societal and ethical concerns (Laczniak 2006; Abela and Murphy 2008).
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