Transforming corporate social responsibilities: Toward an intellectual activist research agenda for micro-CSR research

Verena Girschik*, Liudmyla Svystunova, Evgenia Lysova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In their recent essay, Gond and Moser (2019) have proposed that micro-CSR research has the potential to “matter” and transform business practices as it engages closely with how individuals in companies work with and experience corporate social responsibility (CSR). But can micro-CSR research in its current form realize this transformative potential and serve social justice? Adopting an intellectual activist position, we argue that the transformative potential of micro-CSR is severely limited by its predominant focus on CSR as defined, presented, and promoted by companies themselves, thereby serving to sustain the hegemony of the business case for CSR, promoting narrow interests and maintaining managerial control over corporate responsibilities. We propose that micro-CSR researchers broaden the scope of their research to cultivate the potential of alternative ideas, voices, and activities found in organizational life. In so doing we lay out a research agenda that embraces employee activism, listens to alternative voices, and unfolds confrontational, subversive, and covert activities. In the hope of inspiring other micro-CSR researchers to explore these unconventional paths, we also offer suggestions as to how we can pursue them through empirical research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-32
Number of pages30
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


We thank the feminist scholars on whose powerful work we built for their courage, for their solidarity and for their relentless efforts to embody the ideas of intellectual activism. We thank the editor Olga Tregaskis and three anonymous reviewers for their close and uplifting engagement with our manuscript. We discussed our ideas with colleagues at Loughborough University London, at Copenhagen Business School, and in the CSR community at EGOS. We are grateful for their insights and encouragements. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

FundersFunder number
Copenhagen Business School
Loughborough University London


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