Case Study Methodology in Research on Corporate Social Responsibility: General Publication Profiling and Identifying Research Contexts

Andrzej Lis



Purpose: The aim of the paper is to profile the scientific output in research on corporate social responsibility employing the methodology of case study. The research process is focused around the following research questions: (1) How has the research productivity in CSR case studies been changing? (2) What are the most productive contributors (countries,
research institutions, source titles and scholars) to the scientific output? (3) What are the most popular contexts (geography, industry, company type) of CSR studies employing case study ethodology?  Design/methodology/approach: The study employed the method of research profiling, which is categorized among bibliometric descriptive studies. The standard version of general publication profiling, comprising four aspects used to describe the scientific output in the research field i.e.: country profiling, research institution profiling, source title profiling
and author profiling, was supplemented with identification of the research contexts of CSR case studies. Research profiling was supported with citation analysis and co-authorship analysis, representing science mapping methods. VOSviewer software was employed to conduct citation analysis and co-authorship analysis and visualize the findings.
Findings: The studies employing case study analysis methodology to explore corporate social responsibility issues are still within the growth phase of the research field life cycle. Research profiling of the most productive countries, research institutions, and authors indicates the leading position of the United Kingdom. The followers are both developed nations, mainly Anglo-Saxon countries (the United States, Australia, Canada) and European continental countries (Spain, Italy, Denmark), as well as developing nations (India, Indonesia, China). Source titles profiling points out the following journals of the highest prominence publishing CSR case studies: Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Cleaner Production, and Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. The CSR case studies are embedded in the contexts of both developed and developing nations. The mining industry is found to be the sector attracting the most attention of researchers. Other industries which are often analysed in CSR studies include: tourism and hospitality, food, banking and financial services, chemical, forestry, anufacturing, public health, fashion and textile, oil industries. Research implications: Through bibliometric analysis of case  studies in corporate social responsibility, the study contributes first and foremost to management theory. Firstly, it provides the scholars interested in the field with a detailed map identifying key contributors (countries, research institutions and authors), which may be useful for establishing research collaboration. Secondly, analysing leading source titles is of high practical value for the authors considering journals for submitting their works. Finally, discovering the most often explored contexts of CSR case studies (in regard to geography, industries, and company types), on the one hand, indicates main research interests in the field, but on the other hand may be an indication to find interesting gaps to be covered in prospective case studies. Originality/value: The originality of the study derives from the fact that scientific output including CSR related case studies has not been mapped, so far. The employed methodology, including combination of the bibliometric descriptive approach represented by the research profiling framework and quantitative science mapping methods (citation and co-authorship analysis) creates the unique value of the study. Paper type: Review. 


corporate social responsibility; CSR; case study; bibliometrics; research profiling

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