Accepted Paper:

Corporate social responsibility and employees in Ireland  


Elise McCarthy (Rice University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will discuss the phenomenon of Corporate Social Responsibility and the role it is playing in changing expectations of the workplace in Ireland beyond work and accommodating a range of personal identities beyond that of employee.

Paper long abstract:

The purported goal of CSR oscillates between 'doing the right thing' and 'mere company lip service'. Companies certainly use CSR to make the most of their brands and reputations for competitive edge and most are striving to make it measurable so that its value can be shown.

However, CSR also draws attention to a complex web of relationships that the company is involved in between a range of so-called stakeholders (Freeman 1984). Internet communication and the rapid communication of negative corporate behaviour means that the concerns of employees among many other stakeholders—for example, NGOs, community groups, neighbours, shareholders, media and others—are now carefully attended to. In my ethnographic research among CSR practitioners in Ireland, it seems that old divides—between ethics and life in the company and those outside it, as described by Adam Smith and Karl Marx for instance—are being complicated. Now an employee's personal ethic also seems to belong at work potentially changing what a company is and what an employee is.

This paper will explore these questions in Ireland where CSR is engaging with a range of concerns prompted by the perceived condition of moral decline accompanying Ireland's Celtic Tiger wealth.

Panel W057
Flexible capitalism: new forms of mutuality and diversity at work?