[Journal:] Global Policy [ISSN:] 1758-5899 [Volume:] [Issue:] [Pages:] n/a-n/a
Multinational corporations (MNCs) are increasingly seen as key actors in global governance. This article introduces the concept of corporate role conceptions as a new and interdisciplinary approach for analysing the self‐conception of MNCs. To illustrate its analytical strength, the concept is used to explore how MNCs operating in major forest‐risk supply chains, that is, cattle, palm oil, pulp, soy and timber, conceive themselves and their function in global forest governance. The empirical analysis shows that their self‐conception is both complex and multifaceted as they seek to perform several functions at the same time: corporate decision‐makers consider it appropriate for their corporation to be a pioneer, a role model, a supporter and co‐creator, a dedicated worker, a force for prosperity, a good global citizen and a good steward. However, these corporate role conceptions are overlapping and partly incompatible, which leads to role conflict. I argue that this role conflict constrains corporate agency in global forest governance and therefore diminishes the potential of MNCs to promote positive change.