Call for contributors

Developing Corporate Responsibility Theory:
Exploring the Value of Governmentality


Workshop, September 7th  2011

Royal Holloway, University of London


As corporate responsibility (CR) has evolved in the public and private spheres, we find a growing concern not just with how to operationalize corporate responsibility, but importantly how to influence others to pay head to their social, environmental and economic responsibilities. This aspect of CR lacks theorization, which hampers its development through the academic literature and in turn its robustness in practical application. Significantly, a small number of key CR researchers in Europe have simultaneously identified governmentality as a theoretical lens with great potential in the CR field.


We propose a well established theoretical concept, that of governmentality as a potentially fruitful lens for analysing CR and supporting this important concept to gain academic legitimacy and thereby coherent practical application.


The wide spread use of governmentality as a means of describing and understanding influence and control processes has an established pedigree in a broad range of research applications. Inspired in large part by Foucault’s work from the 1970s and later developed by him and others, government is about the ‘conduct of conduct’ (Foucault 1982; 1991). Going far beyond governance of a state by a government, it quickly becomes apparent that we must recognise that “a whole variety of authorities govern in different sites, in relation to different objectives” (Rose et al. 2006: 85). In turn, governmentality can be considered to deal with how we think about governing with different rationalities (Dean 2009: 24). We follow Rose’s description of governmentality as “the deliberations, strategies, tactics and devices employed by authorities for making up and acting upon a population and its constituents to ensure good and avert ill.” (Rose 1996: 328).


Fledgling but important research in the CR field which draws on governmentality includes that by Vallentin and Murillo (2009), Spence and Rinaldi (2010) and O’Dwyer (2010). O’Dwyer is beginning work on governmentality in accounting and accountability practices.The project by Vallentin and Murillo focuses on the political sphere, and contributes to a political understanding of CR, focusing empirically on developments within the EU. They

approach CR governance in general and competitiveness-driven CR governance in

particular from the point of view of an analytics of governmentality. The research by Spence and Rinaldi, in contrast, uses governmentality in the context of governance in the supply chain, identifying the role that powerful buyers play in seeking to govern the corporate responsibility of their smaller suppliers. Providing a further complementary perspective, Córdoba-Pachon is researching on systems thinking and e-government (Córdoba & Ochoa-Arias, 2010)


Accordingly, a range of respected CR researchers have identified governmentality as a potentially valuable theoretical framework. Now is an opportune moment to bring these scholars together with others who may also be keen to work on governmentality in CR and accordingly contribute to the theoretical foundation of our field.



Submission information


Contributions are sought which directly address the following areas, each of which should relate broadly to corporate social responsibility theory:


  1. Governmentality in accounting and accountability
  2. Governmentality as a political conceptualization
  3. Governmentality in the supply chain
  4. Govenmentality in e-governance


Other relevant contributions will also be considered.


Please submit a minimum of a 500 word abstract outlining the content of your proposed contribution by JULY 17th 2011. Alternatively, full paper submissions are also welcome.


Proposals for contributions should be sent in electronic format to:

Dr Laura J. Spence, Director, Centre for Research into Sustainability, Royal Holloway, University of London.



Draft Programme


9:00-9:30           Registration & Coffee

9:30-9:45           Welcome

9:45-11:00         Workshop sessions

11:00-11:30       Coffee Break

11:30-13:00       Workshop sessions

13:00-14:00       Lunch

14:00-15:30       Workshop sessions

15:30-16:00       Tea Break

16:00-17:00       Workshop sessions

17:00-17:30       Discussion and Close


Participation Cost

We are delighted to be able to subsidize the cost of the conference through the generous support of EABIS and Royal Holloway. There is no fee for participation, but any overnight accommodation will be paid by the participant.


Please address administrative enquiries to: Sharon Clutterbuck:

Workshop Location


Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Royal Holloway occupies an inspiring campus just 20 minutes from London Heathrow airport.


Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 OEX. Accommodation will be on campus. Location maps and directions can be found at


For a virtual campus tour see





The workshop is organized with the generous support of the European Association of Business in Society and Royal Holloway, University of London. Academic organizers are as follows:

  • Dr José-Rodrigo Córdoba Pachon, Centre for Research into Sustainability, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.
  • Dr David Murillo, Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas (ESADE), Ramon Llull University, Spain.
  • Professor Brendan O’Dwyer, Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Dr Leonardo Rinaldi, Centre for Research into Sustainability, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • Dr Laura J. Spence, Director, , Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • Dr Steen Vallentin, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark



Córdoba, J.R. and Ochoa-Arias, A (eds) 2010. Systems thinking and e-participation: ICT in the governance of society.  Hershey (PA, the US): Idea Global.


Dean, Mitchell, 2009. Governmentality: power and rule in modern society. 2nd edn. London: Sage.


Foucault, Michel, 1982. ‘The subject and power’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics H. Dreyfuss and P. Rabinow (eds), 208-226. London: Harvester.

Foucault, Michel, 1991. ‘Governmentality’ in The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality in G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller (eds), 87-104. London: Harvester.

Garriga, Elisabet and Doménec Melé, 2004. ‘Corporate social responsibility Theories: Mapping the territories’ Journal of Business Ethics 53/1-2: 51-71.

O´Dwyer, B. 2010. ´Aligning the programmatic and the technological: The case of sustainability assurance´. Working paper, University of Amsterdam Business School

Rose, Nikolas, 1996. ‘The death of the social? Re-figuring the territory of Government’. Economy and Society 19/1: 327-356.

Rose, Nikolas, Pat O’Malley, and Mariana Valverda, 2006 ‘Governmentality’. Annual Reviews of Law and Social Science 2: 83–104.

Spence, Laura J. and Leonardo Rinaldi.  2010. ‘Governmentality in the Supply Chain’, Transatlantic Business Ethics Conference, Ethics, Corporations and Governance October 7-10 2010, York University in Toronto.

Vallentin, Steen and David Murillo, 2009. ‘CSR as Governmentality’, CSR & Business in Society, Copenhagen Business School Working Paper Series Working Paper No. 04-2009




Dr Laura J. Spence

Director, Centre for Research into Sustainability

Royal Holloway

University of London

Egham, Surrey

TW20 0EX, UK

+44(0)1784 276403




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