Purpose: Taking the deadliest mine accident in Turkey’s history as a case of corporate social irresponsibility (CSI), this study aims to examine the adequacy of Campbell’s (2007) model to explain firms’ CSI behaviour. Design/methodology/approach: The authors applied a case study research method and collected secondary data in both English and Turkish from multiple sources between 2010 and 2017. Findings: The authors found seven of the eight propositions in Campbell’s framework applicable. The only condition that did not fit the authors’ case was financial pressure. The authors concluded that top management’s greed and lack of conscience significantly contributed to their gross negligence of safety measures and employee welfare. Their exploitative human resource practices, supported by low employee voice culture, added to the vulnerability of the mining workers. Research limitations/implications: The authors depended on secondary data in developing and analysing the case. The authors had no primary data collected directly from the participants involved in the accident. Moreover, relying on a single case to challenge an established framework may not achieve the necessary rigour, although an in-depth case study is likely to produce a good story. Practical implications: To prevent mining accidents from happening, Turkey needs to strengthen all three types of institutions (legal and regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive) related to mining safety. As coal mining is harmful to the environment and public health, regulators and policymakers need to consider their dependence on coal mining as a source of energy and actively seek to adopt other clean energy alternatives. Originality/value: This study contributes to the under-researched field of CSI by applying a dual economic and institutional perspective and refining it with the authors’ data.