Chinese NGO–Firm Partnerships and CSR from an Institutional Perspective

Douglas Whitehead


NGO–firm partnerships have been well studied in the literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Marano and Tashman 2012; Dahan et al. 2010; Oetzel and Doh 2009). However, these studies have generally limited their focus to Western multinationals and Western NGOs and, moreover, not by-and-large examine in depth the institutional settings under which either the firm or the NGO operates Building on recent institutional approaches to CSR (Brammer, Jackson, and Matten 2012; Kang and Moon 2012; Matten and Moon 2008), this paper examines how the institutional dynamics of several partnerships between Chinese firms and NGOs affect the manifestation of CSR (e.g. “implicit” vs. “explicit”). The paper also looks into how CSR and NGO–firm collaboration plays out within a changing state-corporatist framework in Chinese context (Unger and Chan 1995, 2008; Hsu and Hasmath forthcoming). The paper then argues 1) that the involvement of an NGO in the partnership reflects a changing institutional setting in China, and 2) that type and level of involvement of Chinese government institutions affects whether a given firm takes an “implicit” or an “explicit” approach to CSR.

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