Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and stakeholder management
: exploring the relationship

  • Lyndsey McKee

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Whilst the relationship between business and society is extremely complex, CSR and stakeholder management are the prevailing concepts within the literature which most adequately captures this. Yet, despite the significant amount of interest generated, numerous issues have not yet been satisfactorily addressed most notably how an organisation can go about meeting its wider responsibilities. Furthermore, research into the concepts within the context of SMEs has received relatively little attention, despite the importance of small firms to the economy. Moreover some have suggested that examining the relationship between CSR and stakeholder management will prove fruitful, not only as a way in which to advance knowledge, but also to increase the uptake of the concepts within practice; yet once again ambiguity as to the relationship remains.

Thus, the focus of this research is to explain and evaluate the relationship(s) between CSR and stakeholder management, with particular emphasis on exploring theory and practice within an SME context. The research programme will comprise of an extensive review of the literature, followed by a case study strategy using three best-practice cases, all of which are SMEs. Subsequently, through a detailed analysis of each of the cases, and a cross-case examination, the research will highlight the emergence of different themes and ultimately the development of theory.

This research programme found that whilst the concepts of CSR and stakeholder management are not synonymous, there certainly are some meaningful parallels which warrant further research. Further to this it is suggested that it is only when these complimentary concepts are combined that the real value can be realised. Indeed not only can the combination of CSR and stakeholder management help better conceptualise the relationship between business and society, but also in terms of implementation it can also provide a more practical way for organisations to meet their wider responsibilities.
Date of AwardDec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorShirley-Ann Hazlett (Supervisor)

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