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School of Business | Department of Accounting | Accounting | 2013
Thesis number: 13358
Corporate social responsibility in compensation systems: empirical insights
Author: Lehtinen, Martti
Title: Corporate social responsibility in compensation systems: empirical insights
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Accounting
Academic subject: Accounting
Index terms: yritykset; companies; palkkiot; remuneration; vastuu; responsibility; sosiaalinen vastuu; social responsibility; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility
Pages: 87
Full text:
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Key terms: corporate social responsibility; compensation system; sustainability balanced scorecard; institutional theory
Research objectives

This report had three main objectives: (1) Explaining the rationale behind corporate social responsibility measurements from a HR point of view, (2) discussing the feasibility of linking CSR target setting to compensation systems and (3) investigating how CSR currently manifests itself through the monetary- and non-monetary elements of the compensation system.


The theoretical part derives insights from prior management and management accounting studies on corporate social responsibility, the compensation system, and the sustainability balanced scorecard framework, examining them through the lens of institutional theory. The empirical part relies chiefly on theme interviews with seven HR managers and one CEO in eight Finnish companies. Corporate sustainability reports were used as secondary sources of information.

Research methodology

A qualitative field study consisting of eight participant companies. The method used was semi-structured theme interviews with seven HR managers and one CEO. Because the subject matter is emergent, the methodology provides breadth through focusing on several case companies, but depth through focusing on HR managers specifically.


CSR has been identified as a strategic activity, but inadequately defined on an internal level. The development of social indicators is in its initial steps and lagging behind environmental indicators. Managers expressed optimism towards linking CSR indicators to compensation, but emphasized that such targets need to be actionable. The study provided evidence of linking incentive compensation to CSR in three of the eight participant companies. In two cases, general CSR target setting was used as basis for monetary compensation, and in one case the incentive system was tied to a specific CSR-related indicator.
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