CSR in banking – the pursuit toward repairing legitimacy and reputation: A case study of Den Norske Bank and Danske Bank

Henrik Nilsen

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


This thesis has issued how the banking sector use CSR in dealing with organizational crises, and how the concept can be useful in efforts to repair the legitimacy and reputation of banks. Norwegian bank DnB NOR and Danish financial service provider Danske Bank have been applied as case examples. The banks’ size and visibility in the Scandinavian context, their recently damaged legitimacy and reputation, and their strategic orientation to CSR make them highly relevant to examine. With banking being a relatively clean sector, it has not faced the scrutiny related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) felt by other business sectors such as oil & gas, forestry and transportation. Recent high profile corporate scandals and accusations of irresponsible behavior, however, have led to organizational crises and are pressuring the banking industry to modify current practices of for instance lending, advising and investment. U.S. banks were the first designated scapegoats when the financial crisis hit in late 2007. However, it quickly became apparent that the banking sector globally, with few exceptions, had been engaged in risky and unsustainable business. Interviews with CSR managers of DnB NOR and Danske Bank indicate that the stakeholder expectations toward banks, in this thesis limited to public opinion and public policy, have risen immensely in recent years. The standing of banks is today under massive pressure, necessitating an adequate response in order to repair weakened reputations and legitimacy. The business perspective on CSR is not only influenced by internal motivations and deliberate foresight, but is to a large extent guided by the way society defines standards of acceptable corporate behaviour. Therefore, the perception of stakeholder pressures toward CSR has been analyzed from the viewpoint of the case banks. Furthermore, strategic CSR responses made by the banks with the aim of repairing legitimacy and reputation have been dealt with. The latter point includes an assessment of the appropriateness of CSR standards and initiatives adopted by the case banks, and to what extent imitation of CSR strategies will affect the work of repairing the standing of banks, and simultaneously ensure competitive edge. The increased expertise that firms gain by joining these business coalitions may enable them to better advice clients and control risks. However, imitation may also lead to homogeneous CSR initiatives perceived as less sincere in a period of increasing pressure and expectations toward banks.

UddannelserCand.merc.ib International Business, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider79