CSR-diskursen: Virksomheders nye ansvarsområder

Henriette Just Simonsen & Maj Sørensen

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


This thesis investigates the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) discourse in Denmark, and how the concept of CSR is ascribed meaning in different contexts as it is presented in Danish business oriented newspapers. We have experienced an increased attention towards CSR in the Danish and global corporate world, and many different discourses are struggling to impose their definition of the concept CSR onto society. This ongoing struggle creates confusion amongst corporate leaders in relation to conducting proper leadership, while still developing and maintaining corporate legitimacy. In 2008 the Danish government passed a law which requires the 1100 largest Danish corporations to detail their CSR activities in their annual reports, and this places urgency on the need for a better understanding of CSR. Within the paradigm of social constructivism which sees the concept of CSR as socially constructed, we analyzed how CSR is ascribed meaning in different ways and how the discourses form the managerial context of corporations. We gathered 168 CSR related articles from two leading Danish business oriented newspapers and categorized them depending on how CSR was ascribed meaning in each article. Our analytical approach is based on Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe‟s discourse analysis, and with a supplement of the concepts of legitimacy and leadership we were able to conduct a meaningful analysis of the concept of CSR. Our analysis consists of two main parts: an introductory analysis and a discourse analysis. The introductory analysis sets the scene for how this thesis becomes meaningful in relation to the surrounding society and also to the professional discourse that we as researchers create meaning through. This analysis points out that society has shifted from acting through a traditional liberal discourse, which makes a clear-cut distinction between public and private, politics and economy, to acting through a discourse in which the very organization of society itself is negotiated. This entails the possibility of meaningfully referring to corporations and consumers as political actors and emphasizes the stakeholder perspective that CSR contains, which means that corporations are forced to negotiate their legitimacy publically. Our second analysis is a thorough discourse analysis of the empirical data in order to investigate the different discourses within which CSR appears. We construct ten different categories, each representing a separate discourse: Philanthropy, Human rights, Employee aspects, Environment and climate, Marketing and reputation, Integration, Management tools and „how it is‟, Values, Bottom line, and Interaction with people in society. Within each category, the concept of CSR is ascribed meaning in a certain way, and accordingly, the „right‟ way for corporations to conduct legitimate leadership is constructed within that discourse. The second part of our thesis consists of two tests where we compare our categories and findings with two other empirical examples of how CSR is ascribed meaning: a catalogue of CSR tools prepared for the Danish government, and the Danish corporation A.P. Møller-Mærsk‟s 2009 Sustainability report. We find that there are several similarities in the ways that CSR is constructed, although the empirical examples stem from very different contexts. On this note, we clarify our thesis‟ theoretical and practical contributions towards how corporations are legitimately able to approach the field of CSR. In the final part of our thesis we conclude that there is an increasing attention towards CSR, and that a joint CSR discourse is emerging, in which socially legitimate leadership is taken for granted as encompassing a strategic and integrated approach to CSR – and that running a business is no longer only a matter of profits. We finish by reflecting critically on our methods, analyses, conclusions, and alternative approaches we could have chosen. We consider what our contribution has been, and propose certain studies that could be relevant to carry out in continuation of the work presented in our thesis.

UddannelserCand.merc.kom Erhvervsøkonomi og Virksomhedskommunikation, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider153