Corporate social responsibility definitions in supply chain research: An ontological analysis

Aswini Yadlapalli, Shams Rahman, Angappa Gunasekaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to propose an ontological framework of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to investigate CSR definitions published in supply chain research in reference to the proposed ontological framework. The dimensions of the CSR ontological framework are clustered into five broad categories: approach, benefits, stakeholders, temporality, and action. Through the systematic literature review, a total of 96 definitions from the supply chain research are identified. The chosen definitions are analysed word-to-word and presented as an ontological map of monads and dyads. Further, a mapping software tool Ucinet is used to visualise the network structure of the dimensions and categories of the CSR definitions. The analysis at the monad level demonstrates that secondary and primary stakeholder and social benefits are the most frequently referred dimensions. The dyadic-level analysis highlights that social–economic benefits and primary–secondary stakeholder dimensions co-occurred heavily resulting in bright spots. Centrality measures of the network analysis indicate that there are major differences in how researchers used dimensions/categories while defining CSR in the context of supply chain research. This article is the first attempt to develop a logically constructed natural-language description of CSR in an ontological framework. The proposed framework will help practitioners to develop coherent and congruent CSR knowledge and conceptualise CSR that is suitable to their context and effectively communicate with the employees and external stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123265
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - Dec 20 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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