Institutional Antecedents of the Corporate Social Responsibility Narrative in the Developing World Context: Implications for Sustainable Development

Frans Melissen, Andrew Ngawenja Mzembe, Uwafiokun Idemudia, Yvonne Novakovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Efforts to understand the background to perceptions and manifestation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the developing world need to focus on establishing their link with the challenges of socio-economic governance and societal expectations and cultural traditions. This signifies a departure from a western centric understanding of CSR but also an over-focus on CSR as philanthropy. This study considers the Malawian tourism industry and finds that its colonial legacy, post-colonialism development thinking and the national education system explain the prevalence of a ‘CSR as philanthropy’ agenda. When these factors interact with challenges of socio-economic governance and societal expectations, however, the universality thesis that has often been associated with the theory and implementation CSR can be challenged. These findings therefore suggest a shift from the western centric CSR thinking to a CSR perspective that is strongly grounded in local values and norms and which meets the expectations of the global society. This indicates a way forward if CSR is to be adequately institutionalized in the developing world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-676
Number of pages20
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number6
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2018


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