Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation

Mette Morsing, Laura J. Spence

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Purpose: Corporate social responsibility communication by small and medium sized enterprises is theorized to form the concept of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) Communication.
    Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that draws on Foucault’s theory of governmentality to develop a theoretical explanation for SBSR communication.
    Findings: Our analysis conceptualizes the ‘governmentality dilemma’ as SBSR managers face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations: responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting (i.e. CSR as a “regime of truth”, Foucault) and an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company (i.e. CSR as personally held values). We contribute to conceptualization of SBSR communication as we develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR. We analyse these from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization.
    Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization of SBSR communication would be enhanced by in-depth, nuanced empirical research.
    Practical implications: This paper has policy implications for those seeking to understand CSR among SMEs using formal communication mechanisms as a metric and control. Our paper suggests this to be an inadequate approach and we propose for SME managers to investigate Foucault’s notion of “care of the self”.
    Originality/value: We conceptualize how SBSR is caught in a ‘governmentality dilemma’ where simultaneous expectations to govern others (e.g. through standards) and the self (e.g. through intrinsic motivations) are confronting owner-managers’ ethos. We explain theoretically how small business managers respond to the challenge when they are required to formalize and display for external surveillance that which would otherwise be informal and part of the non-public or private sphere.
    Purpose: Corporate social responsibility communication by small and medium sized enterprises is theorized to form the concept of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) Communication.
    Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that draws on Foucault’s theory of governmentality to develop a theoretical explanation for SBSR communication.
    Findings: Our analysis conceptualizes the ‘governmentality dilemma’ as SBSR managers face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations: responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting (i.e. CSR as a “regime of truth”, Foucault) and an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company (i.e. CSR as personally held values). We contribute to conceptualization of SBSR communication as we develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR. We analyse these from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization.
    Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization of SBSR communication would be enhanced by in-depth, nuanced empirical research.
    Practical implications: This paper has policy implications for those seeking to understand CSR among SMEs using formal communication mechanisms as a metric and control. Our paper suggests this to be an inadequate approach and we propose for SME managers to investigate Foucault’s notion of “care of the self”.
    Originality/value: We conceptualize how SBSR is caught in a ‘governmentality dilemma’ where simultaneous expectations to govern others (e.g. through standards) and the self (e.g. through intrinsic motivations) are confronting owner-managers’ ethos. We explain theoretically how small business managers respond to the challenge when they are required to formalize and display for external surveillance that which would otherwise be informal and part of the non-public or private sphere.
    LanguageEnglish
    Title of host publicationConference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference
    EditorsUrša Golob, Klement Podnar, Anne-Ellerup Nielsen, Christa Thomsen, Wim Elving
    Place of PublicationLjubljana
    PublisherFaculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana
    Date2015
    Pages148-160
    ISBN (Print)9789612357436
    StatePublished - 2015
    EventThe 3rd International CSR Communication Conference 2015 - Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Duration: 17 Sep 201519 Sep 2015
    Conference number: 3
    https://www.ecogood.org/sites/default/files/dateien/event/csrcom2015_programme.pdf

    Conference

    ConferenceThe 3rd International CSR Communication Conference 2015
    Number3
    CountrySlovenia
    CityLjubljana
    Period17/09/201519/09/2015
    Internet address

    Keywords

    • Corporate social responsibility
    • Communications
    • Small and medium sized enterprises
    • Governmentality
    • Small business social responsibility

    Cite this

    Morsing, M., & Spence, L. J. (2015). Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation. In U. Golob, K. Podnar, A-E. Nielsen, C. Thomsen, & W. Elving (Eds.), Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference (pp. 148-160). Ljubljana: Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana.
    Morsing, Mette ; Spence, Laura J./ Small Business Social Responsibility Communication : Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation. Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference. editor / Urša Golob ; Klement Podnar ; Anne-Ellerup Nielsen ; Christa Thomsen ; Wim Elving. Ljubljana : Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana, 2015. pp. 148-160
    @inproceedings{5a00c18645ca4281be0b469a9cd6ef4f,
    title = "Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation",
    abstract = "Purpose: Corporate social responsibility communication by small and medium sized enterprises is theorized to form the concept of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) Communication.Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that draws on Foucault’s theory of governmentality to develop a theoretical explanation for SBSR communication.Findings: Our analysis conceptualizes the ‘governmentality dilemma’ as SBSR managers face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations: responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting (i.e. CSR as a “regime of truth”, Foucault) and an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company (i.e. CSR as personally held values). We contribute to conceptualization of SBSR communication as we develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR. We analyse these from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization.Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization of SBSR communication would be enhanced by in-depth, nuanced empirical research.Practical implications: This paper has policy implications for those seeking to understand CSR among SMEs using formal communication mechanisms as a metric and control. Our paper suggests this to be an inadequate approach and we propose for SME managers to investigate Foucault’s notion of “care of the self”.Originality/value: We conceptualize how SBSR is caught in a ‘governmentality dilemma’ where simultaneous expectations to govern others (e.g. through standards) and the self (e.g. through intrinsic motivations) are confronting owner-managers’ ethos. We explain theoretically how small business managers respond to the challenge when they are required to formalize and display for external surveillance that which would otherwise be informal and part of the non-public or private sphere.",
    keywords = "Corporate social responsibility, Communications, Small and medium sized enterprises, Governmentality, Small business social responsibility, Corporate social responsibility , Communications, Small and medium sized enterprises, Governmentality, Small business social responsibility",
    author = "Mette Morsing and Spence, {Laura J.}",
    year = "2015",
    language = "English",
    isbn = "9789612357436",
    pages = "148--160",
    editor = "Urša Golob and Klement Podnar and Anne-Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen and Wim Elving",
    booktitle = "Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference",
    publisher = "Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana",
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    Morsing, M & Spence, LJ 2015, Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation. in U Golob, K Podnar, A-E Nielsen, C Thomsen & W Elving (eds), Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference. Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, pp. 148-160, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 17/09/2015.

    Small Business Social Responsibility Communication : Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation. / Morsing, Mette; Spence, Laura J.

    Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference. ed. / Urša Golob; Klement Podnar; Anne-Ellerup Nielsen; Christa Thomsen; Wim Elving. Ljubljana : Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana, 2015. p. 148-160.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

    TY - GEN

    T1 - Small Business Social Responsibility Communication

    T2 - Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation

    AU - Morsing,Mette

    AU - Spence,Laura J.

    PY - 2015

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    N2 - Purpose: Corporate social responsibility communication by small and medium sized enterprises is theorized to form the concept of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) Communication.Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that draws on Foucault’s theory of governmentality to develop a theoretical explanation for SBSR communication.Findings: Our analysis conceptualizes the ‘governmentality dilemma’ as SBSR managers face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations: responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting (i.e. CSR as a “regime of truth”, Foucault) and an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company (i.e. CSR as personally held values). We contribute to conceptualization of SBSR communication as we develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR. We analyse these from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization.Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization of SBSR communication would be enhanced by in-depth, nuanced empirical research.Practical implications: This paper has policy implications for those seeking to understand CSR among SMEs using formal communication mechanisms as a metric and control. Our paper suggests this to be an inadequate approach and we propose for SME managers to investigate Foucault’s notion of “care of the self”.Originality/value: We conceptualize how SBSR is caught in a ‘governmentality dilemma’ where simultaneous expectations to govern others (e.g. through standards) and the self (e.g. through intrinsic motivations) are confronting owner-managers’ ethos. We explain theoretically how small business managers respond to the challenge when they are required to formalize and display for external surveillance that which would otherwise be informal and part of the non-public or private sphere.

    AB - Purpose: Corporate social responsibility communication by small and medium sized enterprises is theorized to form the concept of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR) Communication.Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that draws on Foucault’s theory of governmentality to develop a theoretical explanation for SBSR communication.Findings: Our analysis conceptualizes the ‘governmentality dilemma’ as SBSR managers face two simultaneous and potentially counterproductive expectations: responding to externally prescribed expectations, norms and standards such as branding, codes of conduct and CSR reporting (i.e. CSR as a “regime of truth”, Foucault) and an internally prescribed ethos of a personal philosophy of ethics and norms such as family identity and employee values, concern for local community and legacy of the company (i.e. CSR as personally held values). We contribute to conceptualization of SBSR communication as we develop a framework which suggests a spectrum of disciplining effects of social responsibility in relation to implicit and explicit CSR. We analyse these from the perspectives of surveillance, examination and normalization.Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization of SBSR communication would be enhanced by in-depth, nuanced empirical research.Practical implications: This paper has policy implications for those seeking to understand CSR among SMEs using formal communication mechanisms as a metric and control. Our paper suggests this to be an inadequate approach and we propose for SME managers to investigate Foucault’s notion of “care of the self”.Originality/value: We conceptualize how SBSR is caught in a ‘governmentality dilemma’ where simultaneous expectations to govern others (e.g. through standards) and the self (e.g. through intrinsic motivations) are confronting owner-managers’ ethos. We explain theoretically how small business managers respond to the challenge when they are required to formalize and display for external surveillance that which would otherwise be informal and part of the non-public or private sphere.

    KW - Corporate social responsibility

    KW - Communications

    KW - Small and medium sized enterprises

    KW - Governmentality

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    KW - Corporate social responsibility

    KW - Communications

    KW - Small and medium sized enterprises

    KW - Governmentality

    KW - Small business social responsibility

    M3 - Article in proceedings

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    BT - Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference

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    Morsing M, Spence LJ. Small Business Social Responsibility Communication: Towards a Foucauldian Conceptualisation. In Golob U, Podnar K, Nielsen A-E, Thomsen C, Elving W, editors, Conference Proceedings of the 3rd International CSR Communication Conference. Ljubljana: Faculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana. 2015. p. 148-160.