The Influence of National Culture in CSR-Reporting: A Cross-Cultural Study of Denmark and France

Ida Opstrup

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Information and knowledge about companies’ corporate social responsibility activities has great focus in business today. Stakeholders demand knowledge about this, and the company provides this through their annual CSR-report. The report serves as communication between the company and the stakeholders. This makes the CSR-report an important document for companies today. This thesis treats the question if CSR-reports differ in the process of forming the CSR-report and if the content of CSR-reports differ between countries. The effect of national culture is a concept that is important to understand in today’s globalized business world. The theoretical framework for this thesis was built around stakeholder analysis in relation to CSR-reporting together with the national cultural theories of Gert Hofstede and Edward T. Hall. The research method was built around a cross-national case study of six companies: three Danish companies: TDC, DONG Energy and Novo Nordisk and three French companies: Sanofi, Veolia and Pernod-Ricard. The primary data collection for analysis was gathered from qualitative semi-structured interviews with the CSR-report managers in the six companies. In addition, two CSR-consulting companies were interviewed, one from Denmark and one from France. The secondary data consisted of the annual CSR-reports from each company together with public information and academic literature to support the research. The result of the investigation of the reports and the interviews shows both similarities and several differences in the way the CSR-reporting is being approached in Denmark and France. The countries have the same structure of building up their reports. Both countries have a stakeholder approach to reporting. The differences were seen in the way the CSR-managers and the CSR-reporting companies think about different segments in the reporting process. Examples are that the Danish companies show negative attention to the use of international standard frameworks for reporting, where the French companies shows positive responses. Furthermore, Denmark always express future goals and ambitions whilst France never to. These findings are supported by cultural theories to be caused because of the differences in the national culture between Denmark and France. The conclusion of the study is twofold: similarities between Denmark and France’s reporting practices were seen and are present. However, the main conclusion is that there are several differences in CSR-reporting that can be explained by the differences in Danish and French national culture. Several significant reporting practices correspond with the national culture theory of the two countries. This means that national culture does have an effect on how CSR-reports are set up and what they contain.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages84