This study offers an in-depth contextualisation and critical analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting embedded in the rich context of Egypt’s late Mubarak era. It responds to calls for theoretically informed research into CSR reporting in diverse, including less developed country and historical, contexts. The study is informed by a critical theoretical, poststructuralist and post-Marxist reading of accounting (including CSR reporting) (see Gallhofer & Haslam, 2003, 2019; Brown, 2009, 2017; Dillard & Brown, 2012; Brown & Dillard, 2013; Gallhofer, Haslam, & Yonekura, 2015). Notably, the analysis draws from Gallhofer and Haslam (2019) understanding of accounting as a mix of emancipatory and repressive dimensions and as a dynamic practice that can become, overall, more (or less) emancipatory in shifting contexts. The study explores emancipatory and repressive actualities and potentialities of CSR reporting, including instances reflecting valued particularity, in the dynamics of Egypt’s late Mubarak era, a multi-faceted, conflict-ridden, context reflecting forces of globalisation/globalism and technological change. Pursuing this, the study analyses material garnered via in-depth interviews (around perceptions of and attitudes towards CSR reporting) of key constituencies in the context. The study yields insights in terms of critical understanding and praxis, as envisaged in critical theorising.
In this study we aim to critically and contextually analyse CSR reporting in practice, pursuing an approach concerned to maintain balance and avoid dogmatic tendency. This approach may, at least for some, suggest a contrast with much critical commentary on CSR reporting, which might be read as embracing, for instance, an almost one-sided negativity (key examples include Spence, 2007, 2009, and, Archel, Husillos, Larrinaga, & Spence, 2009). The current study offers empirical analysis of CSR reporting in context that seeks to elaborate emancipatory/progressive along with repressive/regressive dimensions of CSR reporting. This includes articulating valued particularities regarding CSR reporting in the context focused upon. The multi-faceted insights gained reflect our determination to treat context seriously: to appreciate contextual particularity and detail, consistent with Tilt’s (2016, 2018) call that context and contextual specificities need to be treated more seriously in seeking to understand CSR reporting in practice.
Theoretically, the study is informed by the post-Marxist and poststructuralist reading of accounting (including CSR reporting, see Gallhofer, Haslam, & Yonekura, 2015) 1 found in a number of critical theoretical and social analysis contributions to the accounting literature (see Gallhofer & Haslam, 2003, 2019; Brown, 2009, 2017; Dillard & Brown, 2012; Brown & Dillard, 2013; Gallhofer et al., 2015). The work of Gallhofer & Haslam (e.g. Gallhofer & Haslam, 2003, 2019) is especially drawn upon. As elaborated later, this work understands accounting as multi-dimensional, a mix of the emancipatory - for progressive interests, identities and projects - and repressive, at any point in time and space. Seen through this lens, accounting is dynamic and can become, overall, more (or less) emancipatory in shifting contexts. Another emphasis of this work relevant for our analysis is attention to valued particularity and attempting to learn from the other (Gallhofer & Haslam, 2003; Gallhofer et al., 2015; see Marcus & Fischer, 1986; Calhoun, 1995).