Towards an understanding of corporate (dis)engagement with social justice advocacy

  • Louise Jones Stellenbosch University
  • Arnold Smit Stellenbosch University


If it can be argued that companies should engage with social justice advocacy, what factors might deter them from doing so?  This question is pursued in a qualitative research study with participants from corporate and social justice organisations.  Six inhibiting factors are identified: a lack of understanding of social justice concepts; fear of reputational risk; short-term profit orientation; a compliance mindset; disconnectedness from operating environment; and recognition that business purpose will determine its societal engagement. This research extends the theoretical and practice boundaries of corporate social responsibility, while also advocating for an intensified engagement of management education with social justice in practice.

Author Biographies

Louise Jones, Stellenbosch University
Louise Jones is a corporate social investment (CSI) professional and received her master’s degree in Sustainable Development through Stellenbosch University. Her research interests focus on responsible corporate engagement with social justice advocacy, systemic social development practice and corporate sustainability. She is an alumnus of the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch University and a member of the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa). Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch University
Arnold Smit, Stellenbosch University
Arnold Smit is Associate Professor of Business in Society at Stellenbosch University Business School, South Africa. His academic and consulting work is focused on the integration of ethics, responsibility and sustainability in management education, leadership development and organisational practice. His publications include works on management education, leadership, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. He is a former president of the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa). Stellenbosch University Business School, Stellenbosch University