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AbstractIn political philosophy, power and responsibility are known to be two sides of the same coin. Yet surprisingly, corporate political power has not been strongly featured in the long-standing debate surrounding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), despite the parallel debate on the influence of business in policy-making. The political dimension of CSR and its intrinsic relationship with Corporate Political Power (CPP) has been under-researched. This thesis adds to the CSR debate by investigating the processes and mechanisms by which CSR activities contribute to the power of the firm in the political arena, in the context of the British construction industry. Drawing on the literature on power, political activity and extended corporate citizenship, a conceptual model of the relationship between CSR and CPP was developed. The model was underpinned by insights from the Institutional Theory, the Resource Dependence Theory, and the Resource-Based View of the firm. Using a hybrid constructivist-realism epistemology and a processbased analysis, three exploratory case studies were carried out in construction companies operating in the UK. Data were collected through archival research and semi-structured interviews, and analysed by means of within and cross-case analyses. The results revealed that the political environment of the firm was analogous to a marketplace where companies traded political goods with policy-makers. CSR activities produced four political goods, namely public image, technical expertise, social capital and indebtedness, which were identified as the mechanisms by which CSR contributed to CPP. The impacts of CSR activities on CPP were three-fold: CSR strengthened the privileged structural position of companies; helped them gain easier access to policy-makers; and this privileged access gave companies more opportunities to influence regulatory outcomes. The key theoretical contribution of the thesis is a processual model that illustrates how CSR contributes to CPP. There are also implications for practice. CSR activities are velvet curtains that hide the operationalisation of political power. The social and political implications call for the attention of government officials who favour a neoliberal doctrine for the promotion of CSR to business.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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