Managing CSR stakeholder engagement: A new conceptual framework

Linda O’Riordan, Jenny Fairbrass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


As concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) continue to evolve, the predicament facing CSR managers when attempting to balance the differing interests of various stakeholders remains a persistent management challenge. A review of the extensive literature in this field reveals that the conceptualisation of corporate approaches to responsible stakeholder management remains underdeveloped. In particular, CSR practices within the specific context of the pharmaceutical industry, a sector which particularly dramatically depicts the stakeholder management dilemmas faced by business managers, has been under-researched. To address this gap, this paper utilises qualitative, exploratory data, obtained via multiple research methods, to investigate the CSR practices of major pharmaceutical companies in the UK and Germany. The data are employed to critically re-examine and revise a previously published explanatory framework which identifies the management steps involved in CSR stakeholder engagement. The resulting revised explanatory framework is the main contribution of this paper. By abstracting those factors which influence CSR practice, it provides an analytical tool which is designed to be of practical use for business decision-makers when managing their stakeholder engagement activities. Given that the research addresses values and ideals and prescribes practical recommendations for practitioners, it is essentially applied and normative in nature. Ultimately, the framework proposes a set of steps for developing CSR strategies which could help CSR professionals to make a ‘mindset transition’ from a narrower ‘traditional’ approach to CSR to a more innovative way of thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-145
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Early online date5 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Cite this