School of Business publications portal

Change in web publishing of Aalto publication series for Aalto University Business School from beginning of 2014

Information and pdf-files of Business School publications in the Aalto series are now located in the Aaltodoc publication archive

eDiss - School of Business dissertations

Author:Kourula, Arno. 
Title:Company engagement with nongovernmental organizations from a corporate responsibility perspective
Series:Acta Universitatis oeconomicae Helsingiensis. A, ISSN 1237-556X ; 355.
Series no:A-355
Year:2009  Thesis defence date: 2009-10-30
Discipline:International Business
Electronic dissertation: » dissertation in pdf-format   [2914 KB]
Index terms:corporate responsibility; non profit; non-profit organizations; organisaatio; organization; yhteiskuntavastuu
Abstract (eng):Organizations from a Corporate Responsibility Perspective Purpose – This doctoral dissertation examines the relationship between corporations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The key research question of the thesis is the following: Why and how do companies engage with nongovernmental organizations to demonstrate corporate responsibility in different institutional contexts? The most important motives for engaging with NGOs include gaining legitimacy and knowledge, managing risk, improving reputation and increasing operational efficiency. The thesis argues that companies need to understand NGO relations in a more comprehensive and strategic way, adopt a portfolio model to evaluate NGO engagement forms and strategies, improve the assessment of business and societal outcomes of engagement as well as understand the effect of national institutional and civil society base issues on NGO engagement. Company-NGO engagement should not be seen as the primary concern of all companies in the management of operations or investment decisions, but especially large multinational companies have a lot to gain from improved stakeholder management and corporate responsibility programs.

Theories and methods – The summary part and the four articles of the thesis are grounded in concepts and theories from four related and intertwined academic literatures: those of international business, business and society, management, and civil society. One of the articles is a literature review and the other three are based on single or multiple case study methodologies. The summary of the thesis and the three case studies emphasize the corporate responsibility perspective.

Article summaries – The thesis includes four articles: A) a systematic literature review of 88 articles published in the academic fields of business and society, international business, and management analyzes the current state of research on the company-NGO interface (Kourula & Laasonen, forthcoming 2010); B) a cross-national case study of a forest products company examines the importance of institutional context on NGO-corporate relations (Kourula, forthcoming 2010); C) a multiple case study categorizes the engagement of companies with NGOs into three corporate responsibility actions – philanthropy, integration and innovation – and examines the business and societal outcomes of engagement (Kourula & Halme, 2008); D) a longitudinal multiple case study examines the socially responsible purchasing strategies, organizational forms and tools that retail companies adopt in response to stakeholder pressure (Haltsonen, Kourula & Salmi, 2007).

Key contributions – The thesis has two main contributions: bringing geographic and institutional context to company-NGO engagement research and developing and refining corporate responsibility frameworks. More specifically, key theoretical developments of the thesis and articles are 1) building of a comprehensive framework of company-NGO engagement, 2) development of a new concept (civil society distance), 3) evaluation of a classification of company-NGO engagement strategies (sponsorship, dialogue and partnership), 4) refinement, adaptation and empirical examination of corporate responsibility models (an international CR model, a classification of CR types into philanthropy, integration and innovation and a categorization of socially responsible purchasing strategies), 5) a hypothesis regarding the business and societal outcomes of NGO engagement, and 6) the presentation of theoretical propositions related to company-NGO engagement.
Opponents:Roome, Nigel J.
Free University of Brussels, Belgium

Chairperson:Salmi, Asta