Perceptions of value intertwined: the perceived value of Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index:‘assemblages of worth’ in evolution

Kirk, Jacqueline Louise (2018) Perceptions of value intertwined: the perceived value of Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index:‘assemblages of worth’ in evolution. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In recent years there has been an increase in metrics and indices measuring corporate social responsibility (CSR) (SuatainAbility, 2010; IBE, 2013). In legitimating the premise of these metrics focus has centred on the effects of inclusion, either in regard to financial impact for the firm (Beurden and Gössling, 2008; Griffin and Mahon, 1997), validity in gaining and conveying legitimacy (Chatterji et al, 2007; Agle and Kelly, 2001; Font et al, 2012; Graafland et al, 2004), or social impact in promoting responsible business practices (Slager et al, 2010; Slager, 2012; Adam and Shavit, 2007; Scarlet and Kelly, 2009). Yet, arguably these tools are now institutionalised elements of CSR (Waddock, 2008), and thus focus is no longer centred on gaining legitimacy, but rather on retaining it, as they ‘face the need to evolve…in the context of the changing demands of constituents and environmental change’ (Durand & McGuire, 2005, p.168). However, little is known about how these effects (financial, social and validity) impact the valuation dynamics associated with participation in these tools over time. This thesis aims to fill this gap by exploring processes of legitimation and critique of participation in Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index (BiTC’s CRI). Through the lens of Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth (2006), the thesis examines the ‘orders of worth’ drawn upon in legitimating and critiquing participation in the CRI over time.

Methodology is abductive, with data and extant theory explored simultaneously so as to establish contributions through a mutually-informed comprehension of what the data is a ‘case of’ (Tavory & Timmermans, 2014, p.5). Research-theorising applies Peircean semiotics (Peirce, 1909), by which, extant literature and theorising are applied, tested, and either set aside from/or built-upon, when set against the data of the empirical case. Data collection is qualitative, consisting of observations (4 formal and numerous informal), interviews (68) and documentary analysis.

The research ultimately draws on Boltanski and Thévenot’s Economies of Worth (2006), and the notion of ‘composite assemblages’, developed further by Mailhot & Langley (2017), Gond et al (2017) and Taupin (2012). The thesis supports Taupin’s (2012) suggestion; that a rating’s legitimacy is based on a collection of ‘moral worths’ (p.529), and conceptualises this through the ‘composite assemblage’ advanced by (Mailhot & Langley, 2017). Analysis contributes to scholarly understanding of processes of legitimation, by unpacking the relative ‘robustness’ of an assemblage, to internal and external ‘tests’ of worth. In unpacking these processes, the thesis brings together theory from EW, ‘substantive and symbolic CSR’, materiality, risk, and boundary objects; to uncover a complex ‘web’ of dynamic central, and peripheral value assemblages, which BiTC staff and participating CR practitioners draw upon, in legitimating and critiquing participation in the CRI.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Chapple, W.
Waring, J.
Keywords: Economies of worth, assemblages, valuation, CSR indices
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 53660
Depositing User: Kirk, Jacqueline
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2019 11:21
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 18:46

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