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The Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility: Techniques of Neutralization, Stakeholder Management and Political CSR

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Since scholarly interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) has primarily focused on the synergies between social and economic performance, our understanding of how (and the conditions under which) companies use CSR to produce policy outcomes that work against public welfare has remained comparatively underdeveloped. In particular, little is known about how corporate decision-makers privately reconcile the conflicts between public and private interests, even though this is likely to be relevant to understanding the limitations of CSR as a means of aligning business activity with the broader public interest. This study addresses this issue using internal tobacco industry documents to explore British-American Tobacco’s (BAT) thinking on CSR and its effects on the company’s CSR Programme. The article presents a three-stage model of CSR development, based on Sykes and Matza’s theory of techniques of neutralization, which links together: how BAT managers made sense of the company’s declining political authority in the mid-1990s; how they subsequently justified the use of CSR as a tool of stakeholder management aimed at diffusing the political impact of public health advocates by breaking up political constituencies working towards evidence-based tobacco regulation; and how CSR works ideologically to shape stakeholders’ perceptions of the relative merits of competing approaches to tobacco control. Our analysis has three implications for research and practice. First, it underlines the importance of approaching corporate managers’ public comments on CSR critically and situating them in their economic, political and historical contexts. Second, it illustrates the importance of focusing on the political aims and effects of CSR. Third, by showing how CSR practices are used to stymie evidence-based government regulation, the article underlines the importance of highlighting and developing matrices to assess the negative social impacts of CSR.

Document type: 
Article

Global Health and Foreign Policy

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

Health has long been intertwined with the foreign policies of states. In recent years, however, global health issues have risen to the highest levels of international politics and have become accepted as legitimate issues in foreign policy. This elevated political priority is in many ways a welcome development for proponents of global health, and it has resulted in increased funding for and attention to select global health issues. However, there has been less examination of the tensions that characterize the relationship between global health and foreign policy and of the potential effects of linking global health efforts with the foreign-policy interests of states. In this paper, the authors review the relationship between global health and foreign policy by examining the roles of health across 4 major components of foreign policy: aid, trade, diplomacy, and national security. For each of these aspects of foreign policy, the authors review current and historical issues and discuss how foreign-policy interests have aided or impeded global health efforts. The increasing relevance of global health to foreign policy holds both opportunities and dangers for global efforts to improve health.

Document type: 
Article

Brazil and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: Global Health Diplomacy as Soft Power

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

This paper examines the process by which Brazil asserted influence in the negotiation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as an example of soft power. Implemented under the bylaws of the World Health Organization (WHO), the FCTC has been the product of multi-level and multi-actor negotiation processes that define “global health diplomacy”. A fuller understanding of Brazil's contribution to the FCTC provides insights into the pursuit of global health cooperation alongside broader foreign policy objectives, as well as the emerging practice of global health diplomacy.

Document type: 
Article

The Strategic Targeting of Females by Transnational Tobacco Companies in South Korea Following Trade Liberalisation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

In 1988 South Korea opened its cigarette market to foreign companies under thethreat of US trade sanctions. Despite strong social stigma against female smoking in South Korea,and restrictions on tobacco marketing to women and children, smoking rates among young Koreanfemales increased from 1.6% in 1988 to 13% in 1998. Previous analyses describe how Asiancountries have been targeted by transnational tobacco companies for new markets, with Asianfemales offering substantial future growth potential. An understanding of the strategies used byTTCs to increase smoking among Korean females is critical to public health efforts to adopt astronger gender perspective in implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Document type: 
Article

International Organization and Health/Disease

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010
Document type: 
Book chapter

The 2011 Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework: Global Health Secured or a Missed Opportunity?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011
Abstract: 

In early 2007 the Indonesian government announced that it would cease sharing H5N1 influenza virus samples with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network.  At the heart of the government’s complaint was the fact that samples were being passed by the WHO to pharmaceutical companies that developed, and patented, influenza vaccines that the Indonesian authorities could not purchase.  The decision gained widespread support among advocates of greater equity of access to medicines, and in response, the WHO established an intergovernmental process to agree a framework for influenza virus-sharing. The process officially concluded in April 2011 and a new Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIPF) was agreed at the 64th World Health Assembly in May 2011. This paper investigates the events that prompted the re-examination of a technical cooperation system that has provided effective global health security on influenza for sixty years, and evaluates the framework that has now been agreed. Drawing the distinction between functional and moral-political benefits, the paper argues that PIPF more accurately represents a diplomatic standoff – one that has now been effectively sidelined with the passage of the agreement – rather than genuine reform. In fact, the PIPF papers over fundamental disagreements regarding authority in global health governance, the relationship between the WHO and governments, and the role of private industry. The paper concludes by examining an alternative mechanism that would arguably better address the inherent tensions between national and collective interests, and achieve the functional and moral-political benefits that the negotiations set out to achieve.

 

 

 

Document type: 
Article

The Trade and Health Imperative: Managing the Pursuit of Health and Wealth

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2008
Document type: 
Article

Corporate Power and Social Policy: The Political Economy of the Transnational Tobacco Companies

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

Drawing on published tobacco document research and related sources, this articleapplies Farnsworth and Holden’s conceptual framework for the analysis of corporatepower and corporate involvement in social policy (2006) to the transnational tobaccocompanies (TTCs). An assessment is made of TTCs’ structural power, the impactupon their structural position of tobacco control (TC) policies, and their use of agencypower. The analysis suggests that, as a result of the growth of TC policies from the1950s onwards, TTCs have had to rely on political agency to pursue their interestsand attempt to reassert their structural position. The collapse of the Eastern bloc andthe liberalisation of East Asian economies presented new structural opportunities forTTCs in the 1980s and 1990s, but the development of globally coordinated TCpolicies facilitated by the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention onTobacco Control has the potential to constrain these.

Document type: 
Article

Civil Society Organizations and the Functions of Global Health Governance: What Role within Intergovernmental Organizations?

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

Amid discussion of how global health governance should and could be strengthened, the potential role of civil society organizations has been frequently raised. This paper considers the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in four health governance instruments under the auspices of the World Health Organization – the International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, International Health Regulations and Codex Alimentarius - and maps the functions they have contributed to. The paper draws conclusions about the opportunities and limitations CSOs represent for strengthening global health governance (GHG).

Document type: 
Article

Bridging the Divide: The Global Governance of Trade and Health

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

The main institutions responsible for governing international trade and health, theWorld Health Organization and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, were established after theSecond World War. The two domains largely operated separately for many decadeswithin their respective domains. The growth and expansion of world trade over thepast half century amid economic globalisation, and the increased importance of healthissues to the functioning of a more interconnected world, brings the two domainscloser together on a broad range of issues. This has given rise to a number ofinstitutional challenges. Foremost is the capacity of these institutions to govern theirdomains effectively, not only in carrying out their functional roles, but ensuring goodgovernance. Where trade and health issues come together, how well do existinginstitutions work together? Fundamental questions have been raised on both counts.

Document type: 
Article
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