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School of Business | Department of Management and International Business | MSc Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability | 2014
Thesis number: 13555
Different understandings of corporate social responsibility: A case study among investors and middle managers
|Title:||Different understandings of corporate social responsibility: A case study among investors and middle managers|
|Year:||2014 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Management and International Business|
|Academic subject:||MSc Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability|
|Index terms:||kestävä kehitys; sustainable development; yritykset; companies; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility; sijoitukset; investments; liiketalous; business economics|
» hse_ethesis_13555.pdf size:2 MB (1438324)
|Key terms:||corporate social responsibility; socially responsible investment; business and society|
There are almost as many interpretations of the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as there are people interpreting it. This ambiguity related to the concept of CSR makes its development in companies significantly more difficult. This study concentrates on different understandings of corporate social responsibility and the practical implications of these for the case company. The study answers the research question of what kinds of understandings of corporate social responsibility exist, especially how do selected investors and case company's middle managers understand the concept and what kinds of consequences do these understandings have on the development of corporate social responsibility in the case company.
Previous research is reviewed covering the development of CSR over time, different classifications of CSR, basics about socially responsible investment (SRI) and different investors' motives for SRI. It is shown that the concept and meaning of CSR has significantly developed and very different kinds of ways of approaching CSR exist. Also different investors have fairly different kinds of motives for investing in a socially responsible way.
From a philosophical point of view this study represents an interpretivist approach. The study is a qualitative case study in the context of a Finnish case company working in the fields of construction and building services. The selected investors are owners of the case company and all of them have significant operations in Finland.
The results show that the investors had a very structured and uniform way of understanding CSR whereas the middle managers of the case company represented several different understandings. There were also great differences between the understandings of the investors and middle managers. However, when it comes to the actual CSR activities and contents the thoughts were very similar from the different viewpoints.
The theoretical background and empirical results of this study provoked reflections related to business' role in society, to the differences between personal and organizational approaches to CSR as well as related to the results' practical consequences for the case company. The discussion around CSR leads easily to a question of what role business should serve in society. Also it seemed that the understandings on CSR and business' role in society differ from personal and organizational viewpoints. Finally the results of this study mean that there exists a great communicational challenge for the case company and its personnel communicating with the case company's owners.
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