Developing prosperous and inclusive societies requires a reformulation of the business-society nexus toward sustainability. This means that all economically motivated behaviors of firms also need to consider their social and environmental impact, and all social and environmental policies their impact on the business sector and the economy. With the Companies Act 2013, the Indian government adopted a legislative approach to reconfigure the business-society nexus. Mandating what has been considered discretionary elicited an extensive academic debate. To study this India-specific political corporate social responsibility (CSR), we employ Content Configuration Analysis on 70 local and international English-language book chapters, research articles, reports, reviews, and expert commentaries published between 2013 and 2019 to develop a typology of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the Companies Act 2013. Among a large number of positions for and against the Act, we find that arguments extolling its advantages concurrently appear as disadvantages in other texts. This paradox is indicative of the difficulties of satisfying stakeholder expectations, as well as the complexities corporate responsibility programs face in India. Nonetheless, CSR as a policy tool allows the Indian government to instrumentalize the growing success of the business sector to address local and national needs and expectations. By systematizing the opportunities and challenges associated with the Companies Act 2013, we show how, similar to China, context and culture influence India’s socioeconomic development trajectory beyond the conventional market economy canon. Our analyses reveal how advantages and disadvantages are frequently connected to multiple stakeholders, including the government, business, and society. We conclude by highlighting the contribution this study makes to the field of political CSR.
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