The DAO of CSR: Towards a holistic Chinese theory of corporate social responsibility

Colin Hawes*, Angus YOUNG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Widespread corporate scandals involving corruption, environmental pollution, IP theft and food/product safety demonstrate that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has not yet taken root among Chinese business firms. One major reason is that Chinese managers view CSR as a foreign concept, an externally imposed set of rules, that fails to resonate with their internal worldview. This paper proposes a new approach to CSR based on 'vital energy' (qi) circulating within an organically integrated moral cosmos (dao)-a traditional Chinese ecological worldview that overcomes cultural barriers to acceptance, while simultaneously drawing on insights from contemporary behavioural economics and materials science. The paper provides Chinese conceptual tools to transform an externally imposed burden on business firms into an internally generated, ecologically situated, creative and productive corporate evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-204
Number of pages40
JournalEuropean Journal of East Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Neo-Confucianism
  • Vital energy


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