Understanding political responsibility in corporate citizenship: towards a shared responsibility for the common good

Journal of Global Ethics 13 (1):90-108 (2017)
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ABSTRACTIn this article, we explore the debate on corporate citizenship and the role of business in global governance. In the debate on political corporate social responsibility it is assumed that under globalization business is taking up a greater political role. Apart from economic responsibilities firms assume political responsibilities taking up traditional governmental tasks such as regulation of business and provision of public goods. We contrast this with a subsidiarity-based approach to governance, in which firms are seen as intermediate actors who have political co-responsibilities in society endowed upon them by national governmental institutions. We argue that both approaches face conceptual and empirical problems, and do not make clear the content and scope of political corporate responsibility. Based on Iris Marion Young’s account of political responsibility we argue that corporate actors and governmental actors have a shared responsibility to tackle societal problems. Taking political corporate responsibility not only entails engaging in private action or engaging in public–private partnerships, but it also includes aiding governmental actors to remedy injustice or even create public institutions where they do not yet exist. By adding this perspective we contribute to the debate on responsibility in corporate citizenship and clarify the political role business can play in global governance.

Author Profiles

Marcel Verweij
Utrecht University
Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research


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