Reading: Social sustainability with businesses through civil society engagement: a missed opportunity

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Social sustainability with businesses through civil society engagement: a missed opportunity

Authors:

Kapila Ariyadrashana Silva ,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About Kapila Ariyadrashana
Postgraduate Institute of Management
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Arosha S. Adikaram,

University of Colombo, LK
About Arosha S.
Faculty of Management and Finance
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J. A. S. K. Jayakody

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About J. A. S. K.
Postgraduate Institute of Management
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Abstract

The role of business organizations has been challenged owing to its adverse social impact. Civil Society (CS) is considered as possible contender to shape business outcomes enabling social order and social sustainability. However, CS does not demonstrate an active interest to carry out its role, raising the question ‘How does the civil society engages with businesses’. Theoretical lens the study primarily employs, the Deliberative Democracy Theory (DDT) by Habermas (1996), underscores role of CS to identify social issues and take that into deliberation in public sphere in finding just solutions and social order. However, DDT has not been able to explain the failure of CS to engage with businesses in finding solutions despite businesses causing social issues. Hence, in exploring how the civil society engages with businesses, the present study employed qualitative research design with Multiple Embedded Case Study method. Data collected through in-depth interviews and documents were analyzed through thematic analysis method. Findings indicate CS generally comprehends business conduct as a transactional relationship in private sphere and translate into a social issue only when attached with sentiments and emotions that prompts engagement in public sphere. Businesses too in general perceive society as a transactional partner undermining human esteem, and therefore fail in enabling social sustainability through democratic means of engagement. The study thus makes theoretical contribution towards DDT by explaining why CS does not engage with businesses. Furthermore, illuminate implications on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social sustainability attempts of businesses.
How to Cite: Silva, K. A., Adikaram, A. S., & Jayakody, J. A. S. K. (2021). Social sustainability with businesses through civil society engagement: a missed opportunity. Journal of Business Studies, 8, 105–128. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jbs.v8i0.69
Published on 15 Dec 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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