Political Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporations Ethics in the Confessional Democracy System of Lebanon

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Political corporate social responsibility (PCSR) has been extensively researched in the past decade, with growing interest in the increased involvement of private corporations in influencing government regulations as well as providing public goods. Numerous studies have examined these phenomena from various theoretical perspectives and in many contexts. However, Middle Eastern countries have yet to be fully considered, despite the evident corporate involvement in the political sphere. The current study was motivated by the lack of current research on PCSR in Lebanon, one of the most politically unstable Middle Eastern countries and extends the research that has been typically conducted in Western or emerging economies settings. Although PCSR researchers have started to explore the influence of culture and religion, they have not yet examined the influence of politics on the social responsibilities of corporations in settings dominated by ethnicity and religion. Lebanon’s political system is characterised by a confessional government comprising democratic proportional representation of various religious and ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to discover and evaluate factors connecting corporate social responsibility (CSR) to politics in Lebanon, one of the most politically divided and culturally and religiously diverse countries in the region. It extends PCSR theory to account for contexts in which the political effects of CSR are subject to cultural and religious conditions. A qualitative research interview and non-participant observation-based approach was used to conduct a single case study in Lebanon’s two largest cities, Beirut and Tripoli. Through the lens of Gramscian theory of hegemony, I investigate the mechanisms underlying PCSR in Lebanon where a strong connection between social elitism, economic status, politics and religion occurs. This study examined public-private partnerships, which involve private corporations delivering public services by means of contractual agreements with the Lebanese government. It sheds light on corporate responses to social needs and services in a failed government setting and a dynamically complex social, political and multi-sectarian setting. This thesis provides a new perspective on the political roles and responsibilities of corporations, extending current theories on CSR. It conceptualises a more complex and dynamic picture of corporate responses to political demands than that presented in the literature, drawing on a less optimistic framework and revealing crucial insights into the darker picture of dysfunctional corporate practice and a weak political system.
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