University of Oulu

Hatami, A., Hermes, J. and Firoozi, N. (2023), "Moral laxity – the cognitive gap between true and pseudo corporate social responsibility", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 526-549.

Moral laxity : the cognitive gap between true and pseudo corporate social responsibility

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Author: Hatami, Akram1; Hermes, Jan1,2; Firoozi, Naser3
Organizations: 1Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland
3Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Pentti Kaiteran katu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-26


Purpose: To succeed in today’s dynamic and unpredictable business world, businesses are increasingly required to gain the trust of and inform the society in which they operate about the social and environmental consequences of their actions. Corporations’ claims regarding the responsibility and ethicality of their actions, however, have been shown to be contradictory to some degree. We define corporations’ deceitful implementation of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies as pseudo-CSR. We argue that it is the moral characteristics of individuals, i.e. employees, managers and other decision-makers who ignore the CSR policies, which produce pseudo-CSR.

Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper.

Findings: The authors conceptualize the gap between true CSR and pseudo-CSR on a cognitive individual level as “moral laxity,” resulting from organization-induced lack of effort concerning individual moral development through ethical discourse, ethical sensemaking and subjectification processes. The absence of these processes prohibits individuals in organizations from constructing ethical identities to inhibit pseudo-CSR activities.

Originality/value: This paper contributes to the literature on CSR by augmenting corporate-level responsibility with the hitherto mostly neglected, yet significant, role of the individual in bridging this gap.

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Series: Critical perspectives on international business
ISSN: 1742-2043
ISSN-E: 1758-6062
ISSN-L: 1742-2043
Volume: 19
Issue: 4
Pages: 526 - 549
DOI: 10.1108/cpoib-03-2021-0029
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © Akram Hatami, Jan Hermes and Naser Firoozi. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at