Should corporations be citizens? A critical analysis of corporate citizenship

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Bachelor's thesis
Electronic archive copy is available locally at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre. The staff of Aalto University has access to the electronic bachelor's theses by logging into Aaltodoc with their personal Aalto user ID. Read more about the availability of the bachelor's theses.
Degree programme
The objective of this thesis is to critically examine the concept of corporate citizenship and its implications on the society. More specifically, this thesis aims to answer the following questions: 1. Can corporations be citizens? 2. Should corporations be citizens? Corporate citizenship builds on corporate social responsibility that encompasses the responsible and socially acceptable behavior of corporations. Furthermore, in general, corporate citizenship includes corporations’ strategic philanthropic actions and participation in the society’s welfare. In order to answer the displayed research questions, the concepts of corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship and various models of citizenship will be introduced. However, no definitive answers can be provided to the questions, since areas of corporate citizenship, such as corporations’ governmental actions lack research. There are possibilities to apply few conceptualizations of citizenship to corporations, regarding particularly corporations fulfilling their economic functions and participating in the society for example via donating to good causes. However, it is challenging to apply models of citizenship directly to corporations. Such direct applying would from the view of liberal citizenship for example mean giving corporations a right to vote in elections. However, such rights could lead to unpredictable situations that could change our political environment considerably. Thus, corporations can be citizens, but generally speaking corporate citizenship should be addressed as metaphorical. When it comes to the question of should corporations be citizens, many societal approaches can be considered. For instance, in developing countries the society can benefit largely from corporations stepping in when governments fail. Indeed, corporations have recently been taking over governmental activities also in Western countries, which among the positive influences can also cause problems. Especially problematic is the lack of legislation when it comes to these governmental activities of corporations. Thus, corporations may lack skills to govern, and hence could be asked that are corporations trustworthy as providers of public goods, i.e. health care. Corporations can also execute solely profit-oriented or self-interested philanthropy and CSR marketing, which can influence the corporation negatively, but also cause environmental or societal problems. Thus, the motivations behind CSR and CC play an important role in corporations’ activities, and hence they are examined in this thesis. Overall, this thesis aims to critically analyze corporate citizenship, and recommendations on further research, especially regarding the current terminology and corporations’ governmental activities are displayed.
Thesis advisor
Mikkonen, Ilona
corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, citizenship, responsibility
Other note