MNCs and CSR: A reflection on Multinational Enterprises as “Social Actors”—Constructivist Explanations for Corporate Social Responsibility

Throughout the whole term, we’ve been talking religiously on what MNCs were and how they started, and what they’re doing to the world. Multinational corporations are not just private business actors, but also became a big part of overall global governance. This has resulted in making them not only economic actors, but also political. (1). We seem to have this understanding that for most multinational corporations, profit is the main motive and key, and so putting business stakeholders first. However, it is important to understand that this expectation we have of MNCs are “socially shared expectations” (11). However, with CSR, new expectations have risen, leading to my thoughts about the article. To be fair, before reading this article, the opinion that has been formed in my head was that MNCs only care about profit, and nothing else.

The authors of the article, however, have concluded a different argument. Instead of thinking of corporations in this rational way, why not think there is more to them than profit and selfish behaviour, stating that “MNEs are influenced by emerging norms as ideational aspects of social interaction instead of static rationality” (20). What they mean by this is that CSR practices are, in fact, taken seriously within corporations, and that includes the social responsibility being given to them through the emergence of norms, and basic social interaction.

I would be lying if I said this article did not – slightly – change my mind on motives of CSR practices within MNCs. It still baffles me how MNCs in this capitalist, globalized world, would care about anything else other than the profit they get out of consumerist practices. But I guess as Political Science and IR students, we should keep our minds open, and maybe welcome other ideas. The article was very well put, because it did outline some different arguments that could appear, and their answer to it, such as the public relations idea mentioned. For an MNC to fully announce that they will be involved in CSR practices comes great responsibility, and so if they do not follow this statement, they will receive backlash.

With that being said, I still believe that MNCs have a long way to go when it comes to bettering their practices, and making them more ethical. There are problems and scandals that arise daily from companies being caught being unethical (after claiming they were). I’m keeping an open mind, and I believe there is hope. But there is also a long road ahead for the authors’ arguments to be 100% true.




Matthias Hofferberth et. al. (2011)Multinational Enterprises as Social Actors”—Constructivist Explanations for Corporate Social ResponsibilityGlobal Society25, 2: 205-226