Is corporate social responsibility a new spirit of capitalism?

Bahar Ali Kazmi*, Bernard Leca, Philippe Naccache

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our study casts doubt on whether the managerial literature on corporate social responsibility is currently capable of developing a persuasive discourse to bring about change in corporate capitalism. By applying the framework and methodology of the spirit of capitalism, introduced by Boltanski and Chiapello, to a corpus of managerial books, we suggest that corporate social responsibility exhibits the core characteristics that together exemplify the ‘spirit of capitalism’. However, corporate social responsibility deals inadequately with the two key characteristics of the spirit of capitalism—security and fairness—by disregarding individual security and tangible rewards for workers who play decisive roles in enacting the spirit. The lack of consideration for workers could weaken the potential of corporate social responsibility to grow into a new spirit of capitalism and to bring about changes envisioned by critical management studies in corporate capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-762
Number of pages21
Issue number5
Early online date23 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • critical performativity
  • fairness
  • security
  • spirit of capitalism


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