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Content in the Context of Welfare Configurations: A Comparative Institutional Analysis of Self-Reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility
Stockholms universitet, Sociologiska institutionen.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7094-7297
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This paper connects to research on the institutional determinants of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and examines corporate CSR agendas in the context of four differing national institutional arrangements for welfare. An analysis is presented of how self-reported CSR differs in content across two Western welfare states (UK and Sweden) and two emerging economies in the Global South (South Africa and Mauritius). The paper is based on original data collected from corporate self-reporting on CSR. Differences in content given to CSR across the four country contexts are discussed in terms of institutional complementarity and similarity between CSR and welfare configurations at the national level. The findings indicate that differences in self-reported CSR agendas are particularly evident between the two established economies on the one hand, and the two emerging economies on the other. These findings are analysed in terms of companies seeking legitimacy in the context of existing provisions for welfare, or the lack thereof.

Keyword [en]
corporate social responsibility, institutional complementarity, institutions, welfare, developing countries, embeddedness, qualitative content analysis
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-23197OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-23197DiVA: diva2:1061314
Available from: 2016-11-28 Created: 2017-01-02 Last updated: 2017-01-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Contextualising Constructions of Corporate Social Responsibility: Social Embeddedness in Discourse and Institutional Contexts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contextualising Constructions of Corporate Social Responsibility: Social Embeddedness in Discourse and Institutional Contexts
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

‘Corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) and ‘socially responsible investment’ (SRI) have become predominant frameworks connecting business to society that have spread across the globe. They comprise a shared set of ideas and practices, such as those promoted in global reporting standards and by international organisations such as the UN Global Compact. Nonetheless, both are constructed and reproduced by companies in relation to context-specific social institutions, including norms and conventions shaping company engagement in social issues. Using a neo-institutionalist theoretical framework, the thesis examines constructions of social responsibility in discourse and within institutional contexts, across regions that are not often compared in the research terrain: two West European welfare states (Sweden and the UK) and two emerging African economies (South Africa and Mauritius). The purpose of the thesis is to add to the literature on CSR and SRI with a sociologically informed perspective that is comparative and connects institutional theory with social constructionism and a Foucauldian perspective on power. The thesis analyses how perceptions of CSR and SRI are constructed in relation to the social institutions that encase companies’ engagement with social issues, such as national level welfare configurations and the institution of financial investments. The main argument in this thesis is that CSR and SRI need to be seen as contextually constructed, in discourse and practice, in ways that draw the boundaries and set the conditions for company engagement with social issues.

The thesis comprises three articles. Article 1 is a content analysis of company self-reporting on CSR and the article examines how the content given to CSR relates to broader welfare configurations and as such differs in four national settings across the divide between emerging African economies and Western welfare states. Article 2 is a discourse analysis that examines interpretative repertoires occurring in company self-reporting across the same set of four countries. The interpretative repertoires are analysed as discursive practices where power intersects with the production of knowledge on CSR. Article 3 focuses on SRI and examines responsible investing as a form of institutional work that institutional investors engage in. Based on an interview study with institutional investors in Sweden, the article analyses institutional work as a process that has the effect of both institutional creation and maintenance and it connects these institutional processes to the construction of meaning on SRI. In its entirety the thesis contributes a sociological perspective on how prevailing understandings of corporate social responsibility come into being and are reproduced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2016. 37 p.
, Stockholm Studies in Sociology. New series, ISSN 0491-0885 ; 64
corporate social responsibility; CSR; institutional theory; Foucault; context; embeddedness; institutions; new institutionalism; institutional complementarity; discursive institutionalism; institutional work; responsible investment; SRI; social constructionism; discourse; power; qualitative content analysis; self-reporting; abductive approach; interpretative repertoires
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-23142 (URN)978-91-7649-630-5 (ISBN)978-91-7649-631-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-01-20, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2017-01-02 Created: 2016-12-22 Last updated: 2017-01-02Bibliographically approved

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