In or Out of control? At the Interface of CSR in Identity-image Dynamics

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This paper reports a study on CSR as a form of control of organizational members’ identity. Prior studies have suggested that managerial CSR policies may have disciplining effects on member identity. We extend this research by suggesting that identity-image dynamics amplify and change such control effects, as CSR messages are communicated to external audiences and institutionalized as expectations to intenal audiences with publicly binding promises about a certain member identity of “being good”. Based on empirical findings we propose that CSR as a communicated and generalized concern for the “other” introduces a new layer of institutional control for identity work that emerges beyond managerial influence, as employees as well as managers are (morally) inclined to comply with the Corporate CSR promise of “being good”. Importantly, our findings show that members comply with the CSR message in
four ways that include devotion but also suppression of overt forms of critique and resistance. We refer to these four compliance modes as the “moral capture of CSR”. We discuss the implications of compliance to CSR as a form of control of identity work, as we propose that CSR images “captivate” member identity in discursive closure and impede future development of CSR.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event77th Annual meeting of the Academy of Management: At the Interface - Georgia, Atlanta, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20178 Aug 2017
Conference number: 77


Conference77th Annual meeting of the Academy of Management
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • CSR
  • Identity-Image
  • Identity work
  • Control
  • Compliance
  • Discursive closure
  • Communication

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