CSR and Collective Bargain: An Analysis of The Danish Labour Unions’ Potential Usage of CSR

Henrik Madsen & Alexander Østergaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish labour unions have a noteworthy history and have had a great influence on Danish society through their role in the Danish Model. However, the labour unions are currently facing challenges with declining membership and a weaker bargaining position. This thesis investigates and analyses how strategic use of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), including strategic partnerships with NGOs and involvement in global governance, could hold a potential for the Danish labour unions to help address some of their challenges. Using a qualitative method, our data is drawn from interviews with prominent officials of the Danish labour unions and Professor Laust Høgedahl, who has studied the Danish trade unions. We start by characterising the Danish labour unions as a reformative social movement that strives to work collaboratively with the employers to create institutional change and ensure a reinstitutionalization of their organizational field so that it is supportive of labour rights. This kind of approach is consistent with CSR, as it, among other things, concerns labour rights and is considered a corporate concept. We then discuss the core framing tasks the labour unions need to emphasize on entering into strategic partnerships with NGOs. We also reflect on some of the risks and obstacles likely to be associated with this kind of partnerships. Finally, we discuss the labour unions’ attitude towards governmental involvement in CSR and global governance, and touch on how the Danish labour unions could contribute as a unique type of transnational advocacy network-auditor.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages128