Corporate Social Responsibility in the Water Sector: How Material Practices and their Symbolic and Physical Meanings Form a Colonising Logic

Linne Marie Lauesen

    Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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    This PhD thesis is the outcome of three-year doctoral study of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and stakeholder engagement in the water sector. This study contributes to new knowledge about water companies formed as hybrid organisations in the aftermath of the new public management (NPM) era worldwide. Today we see different hybrid organisations of water companies around the world that have either been fully privatised or quasi-privatised. Quasi-privatisation in Denmark means that water utilities are still perceived as natural monopolies, which has not made them into for-profit driven companies. Instead a simulated market and state regulation has been introduces with annual, national benchmarking to set a price cap as an upper limit for the consumer-price of water. Similar systems are seen in fully privatised water companies in the United Kingdom, the United States, and partially in South Africa. However, here the water companies are typically owned by private companies and not established as municipality-owned limited liabilities as in Denmark and elsewhere in Scandinavia. This PhD thesis proposes new models and principles and corporate social responsibility and stakeholder engagement of these water companies. The findings of the study suggest a new definition of a colonising logic of CSR competing and coexisting with the regulators’ colonising logic of NPM. Through the
    study and definition of these logics as colonising the water sector this PhD theisis provides an understand of new perspectives of how CSR is enacted through stakeholder engagement and how the logic of CSR frames the top managers’ claim:
    ”We are CSR!” (Interview B, March 2011) and the consequences of this logic. Both the logic of CSR and the logic of NPM is found to be based on the materials that the water companies are organised around, namely water. Water is perceived as a natural good that should ideally be free and plentiful for all citizens around the world. However, the competition between the two colonising logics stems from another material, namely the money or price that providing clean and pure water for all are allowed to cost the citizens. Through the dialectical interaction of these in terms of material practices between producing water and infrastructure to distribute it and collecting money as a payment for it and the regulation of this, this PhD thesis proposes a new definition of the role of materials and material practices underlying several institutional logics such as the institutional logic of capitalism, state, democracy, family, religion/science, profession, and corporation (Friedland & Alford, 1991; Thornton et al., 2012; Friedland, 2013).
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
    Number of pages422
    ISBN (Print)9788793155121
    ISBN (Electronic)9788793155138
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    SeriesPhD series

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