Corporate Social Responsibility: From Transparency to ‘Constructive Conflict’

Authored by: Dominique Bessire

The Ashgate Research Companion to Corporate Social Responsibility

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754647775
eBook ISBN: 9781315612843
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043812

10.4324/9781315612843.ch4

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Abstract

For some decades, the word ‘transparency’ has been used very extensively, in situations related to day-to-day life as well as in the managerial area. Two domains put a specific emphasis on this concept: corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. In both domains, the necessity for transparency is taken for granted and is very seldom questioned. The connection between corporate governance and social responsibility via the concept of transparency has intrigued us and the consensus on its necessity has roused our suspicion. Our chapter therefore aims to answer the two following questions: why do discourses on corporate governance and on corporate social responsibility make use of the word ‘transparency’, and what do these unanimist discourses hide? The first section of the chapter tracks the origins of the concept and tries to uncover the theoretical connections with managerial, economic and even philosophical literature. The second section concentrates on the adverse effects of discourses on transparency: the dissimulation of a struggle for power, the expression of a disciplinary power and more generally the exclusion of ethics. The third section points to the necessity of breaking away from the anti-humanist assumptions on which economic science has developed and which underpin most discourses on transparency. It suggests rebuilding management science on radically different bases, notably by a stronger emphasis on the concept of trust and the necessity of promoting pluralist democracy.

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