Making social issues count: how businesses address social issues in strategic decision-making

Pratima Bansal, Garima Sharma

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this paper, we investigate how social issues are addressed in strategic decisions. Social issues are events, developments and trends that affect human health and welfare. The rational, calculating processes often used in strategic decision-making do not always extend well to the normative, soft aspects of social issues, yet most strategic decisions involve social issues. By understanding how social issues surface in strategic decisions, we can shed light on how corporations integrate social responsibility into strategic decisions. We investigated this phenomenon by interviewing 137 senior executives of 19 Canadian firms and asking them to describe a recent strategic decision and how the decision was reached. By analyzing their narratives, we found that some managers framed social issues narrowly to reflect business interests, whereas others framed social issues broadly to reflect business and societal interests. We propose that the managers that framed social issues more narrowly worked in organizations that privileged numbers and relied on commensuration processes for closure, whereas managers that framed social issues more broadly worked in organizations that valued words and relied more heavily on dialectic and dialogic processes. In this paper, we describe the social issues identified by managers and their respective decision-making processes, drawing on research in dialogue to contribute to research in corporate social responsibility and strategic decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2015 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 7 Aug 201511 Aug 2015
Conference number: 75th


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2015
Abbreviated titleAoM 2015
OtherThe 75th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management will be held August 7-11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The program theme is Opening Governance. The 2015 theme invites members to consider opportunities to improve the effectiveness and creativity of organizations by restructuring systems at the highest organizational levels, and to try to answer the many questions organizational governance faces in today's digital and informational climate.
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