Instrumental, Strategic and Political Conception of Corporate Social Responsibility


The corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature defines instrumental, strategic and political approaches to CSR. The strategic approach to CSR in transnational corporations goes beyond the customer orientated short time issue management, persuasion and financial performance, but emphasizes a long time perspective based on planned, implemented and evaluated projects to create business value. The research in this paper focuses on the corporate communication directors conception of corporate social responsibility. Participants from transnational and Turkish national corporations have been interviewed and qualitatively analysed. The findings show that all interviewed participants are enthusiastic about the concept of social responsibility. They define CSR as the “raison d'etre of the company” or “the sine qua non of sustainability is social responsibility”. Two of three Turkish national corporations’ CSR conception can be defined as a stage between instrumental and strategic, because CSR in these corporations is more customer orientated with limited or short time influence at the one side, but also implemented for sustainability and to create business value on the other side. The CSR perspective of a Turkish national company based on a farmers union established half a century in order to serve the interests of the local community and stimulate development is clearly political. The conception of sustainability and responsiveness to stakeholders was inherent in the establishment of this particular firm. We conclude that there is a remarkable agreement between the CSR directors’ perspective and the firm’s organizational behaviour and that the cases follow the classification described in the literature to some extent.