The voices of local manufacturers have largely been overlooked in academic and policy debates on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the developing world. This article makes a contribution towards filling this gap in the literature by explicitly taking a phenomenological approach that maps the interpretations given to Western-based CSR initiatives by local manufacturers. Data from two qualitative research projects on CSR initiatives in the soccer ball industry of Sialkot, Pakistan, are utilized to explore this issue in an inductive and exploratory manner. The article suggests that many soccer ball manufacturers in Sialkot perceive CSR as part of the wider historic project of Western imperialism in the developing world through which economic resources are extracted from local manufacturers while their perceptions of what constitutes socially responsible behaviour are delegitimized. This counter-discourse of CSR as Western imperialism paves the way for an alternative reading of CSR that challenges both more management-oriented mainstream conceptions of CSR and more critical contributions to the CSR and development literature. The article suggests that this alternative reading of CSR as Western imperialism may have significant implications for future change management research and practice.