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Beauty and the beast: an institutional analysis of corporate social responsibility in China

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of International Business Ethics
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)36-51
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Academic conceptualizations of corporate social responsibility rarely take an institutional perspective. Yet, the socially responsible behavior of multinational companies in China cannot exist within an institutional vacuum. We address this gap in the literature by presenting the case of SK-II Cosmetics, manufactured by Procter & Gamble in Japan and exported to China. In 2006, Chinese authorities announced that SK-II contained toxic chemicals despite company denials. Using SK-II as an exemplary case, we argue that dynamic institutional actors, such as the state, media and consumers continually shape and challenge the definition of what is socially responsible behavior, based not just on firm’s behavior but on the broader institutional context. We suggest that at least three institutions are important in determining corporate social responsibility for foreign firms in China: first, the market (more precisely competition); second, political/private censorship of information (or the tactical use of misinformation) and corporate governance; third, state protectionism and rent-seeking.