Corporate social responsibility: the intersection of facts, beliefs and values

Considine, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-7162-0061, 2015. Corporate social responsibility: the intersection of facts, beliefs and values. PhD, University of Lincoln.

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This research explores the social phenomenon of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Recent high profile scandals have raised the profile of Corporate Social Responsibility and as a result organisations now spend significant time and resources attempting to manage it. The importance of CSR is well evidenced in this research however what CSR actually is and what constitutes successful CSR is a much more difficult question for employees to answer. Even the term CSR is problematic and lacks agreed definition. This thesis shows that this leads to uncertainty and it examines the ways that organisational members interpret the subject, so that it means something to employees and stakeholders, and it further demonstrates the factors underpinning a successful programme. Clear gaps exist in the perceptions of senior management, line managers and front line employees as to what CSR means or what its benefits might be, indeed some question if the subject is an area that organisations should be involved in at all. The only thing that there seems any agreement over is that Corporate Social Irresponsibility is probably bad for the organisation, bad for society and bad for the stakeholders. This thesis contributes to the sociology of knowledge in a number of interrelated ways, and it is the nexus of these interrelationships that develops the distinctive contribution. The thesis examines the way that a number of organisations operationalize the construct of CSR to create shared value for the communities that they serve. It analyses the evolution of the definitions in use by the organisations and how employees create a shared understanding of the value that is added by CSR. Importantly the research provides a framework for understanding the impact the CSR can have within an organisation and provides a management tool to categorize CSR activities and then allows managers to identify ways of using CSR in a more strategic way. The thesis employs a case study approach to three organisations that are constituted in different ways and are of different sizes. These organisations have been chosen as they reflect the differing structures that represent the full range of incorporated businesses with the exception of the niche area of incorporated partnerships. All three believe that values are an important element of their business model and organisational culture. It considers the impact of structure and constitution, and investigates the different approaches of a large local Cooperative, a specialist hybrid Co-operative and the standard investor owned firm (IOF) model of CSR. It draws conclusions as to similarities and differences between the models and identifies core drivers of success in CSR for the organisations, as interpreted by employees. The approach follows the method outlined in Hingley (2010) and Stake (1995) and can be seen as typical cases of this type (Yin 2003). The use of multiple cases give a richness of detail by allowing input from the widest cross section of staff by interviewing over 150 staff of varying positions and from the widest possible ranges of business units and regions until saturation of categories was reached. The cases are built using Grounded Theory (GT) – a method that gives a significantly more validity to the process than a simple case approach and mitigates many of the weaknesses identified in the Case Study method. For example the topic of sense making is an important element of the thesis as is the process of symbolic interactionism. These require a depth of analysis and rigour in their investigation that GT gives but that case study is unlikely to uncover Unlike much research in this field that examines the reputational benefit of CSR the thesis examines the definition of CSR viewed from an organisational perspective. It adds to the body of knowledge regarding ways that employees make sense of the construct and their perceptions of benefits of CSR. It examines the impact of structure and constitution of organisations and contributes to our understanding of how this impacts on the behaviours and culture of organisations – a central tenet of CSR. The importance of alignment between espoused and enacted values is demonstrated as is the role of leadership in creating the conditions for a culture that ensures values are the key driver of CSR. The research examines the factors perceived by staff to impact the credibility of CSR and makes a methodological contribution by using Grounded Theory to build case studies by applying the rigorous coding processes to the development of the frameworks that the cases are based on. Finally the research makes a significant practitioner contribution by introducing the CSR matrix – the tool by which managers can categorise their activities and identify the organisational capabilities that can be leveraged to create shared value.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Considine, P.
Date: April 2015
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 11 Mar 2016 11:05
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:59

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