How can Corporate Social Responsibility best be understood, what is its range of application and what insights can culture provide when considering the responsibilities of a third sector organisation? This thesis addresses these questions through ethnographic enquiry conducted in a third sector organization (Groundwork Northumberland). Challenging the rigid conventions which restrict the relevance of Corporate Social Responsibility to the private sector it demonstrates both the contest and construction of meaning and frame of reference of Corporate Social Responsibility by employees in Groundwork Northumberland. All eight members of the organization have participated by engaging in semi-structured interviews (with me), keeping a research diary (individually) and participating in a focus group (with colleagues). These engagements have generated multiple accounts which demonstrate the tensions and dilemmas that mark their work, particularly in meeting expectations of stakeholders. Through these engagements the self-understandings of participants are shown to have been challenged and changed through the research process. Equally the ‘concept’ of Corporate Social Responsibility has been shown to be similarly changeable while remaining unintelligible outside a context of practice in which at least some self-understandings are shared. Martin’s framework has been considered as a means to represent the culture of the organisation. The third perspective highlighting ambiguity, paradox and contradiction seems to best represent the accounts of the research engagement with GN. The presence of tension and difference as well as a sense of disorder suggest a place for debate, discussion and plurivocality, a place in which there is indecision and the possibility of decision (Derrida). It can therefore be suggested that a responsible organization and person will be more marked by fragmentation than integration or differentiation, and that fragmentation provides conditions which Derrida discusses through the terms ‘aporia’ and ‘undecidability’. These accounts exhibit the radical undecidability of Derrida’s ethical situation in all its lived messiness. The culture of an organization which has engaged in such meaning construction is shown to be marked by the acknowledgment of the responsibility of meaning-making and is aporetic. The contribution of this thesis is to demonstrate the responsibilities inherent to an engagement with the precariousness of meaning exhibited by Corporate Social Responsibility in an organization which has chosen such engagement.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 5 Nov 2009|