Corporate Citizenship; An idea whose time has not come
In a provocative contribution to AMR, Matten and Crane (2005) have sought to shed novel conceptual light on the notion of corporate citizenship (CC). They correctly observe that, to date, research and discussion on CC have consistently lacked conceptual rigor, often stretching the notion of CC to cover a broad array of phenomena that do not seem to be related in any systematic way. Consulting a long and respected tradition of thinking on citizenship in political theory, they propose conceiving of CC “as the administration of a bundle of . . . citizenship rights—social, civil, and political— conventionally granted and protected by governments” (2005: 166), but presently—at least in their view—increasingly becoming the domain of corporate rather than state activity. The authors’ main purpose, to be sure, is descriptive rather than normative. It is to “sharpen our conception of what CC is, and what it is not,” thereby offering “a more informed basis for empirical research.” They also hope to “stimulate conceptual debate” (2005: 167). Have they succeeded?