Realising the Idea of CSR: A problematisation and experience analysis of the Danish CSR consultancy practice

Clara Amalie Iuel Rasmussen & Stine Sumborg Stoholm

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines Danish CSR consultant’s practices as an entrance to understand how and why CSR has developed into a certain practice and discipline. It is the aim to present a discussion of which form the phenomenon takes in our present due to this development, in relation to the historicity of CSR. With the purpose of passing through the ongoing and normative theoretical discussion derived from the literate field’s many years’ attention to the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility, we study the CSR practitioners and their continuous commitment to CSR as a problem and its realisation to strip CSR off its evidentiary status. Through interviews with Danish CSR consultants we empirically analyse the subjects’ self-relation, their methods, strategies, rationales and arguments of how and why CSR should be practiced. We subscribe to a Foucauldian methodology and use Gudmand-Høyer’s reconstruction of Foucault’s problematisation and experience analysis to present CSRs problematisation process and disclose the phenomenon’s search of its own foundation. The specific methodology and analytical method presents itself as an alternative way to comprehend the CSR phenomenon’s development and consequently the current practice. We argue that the problematisation of preceding versions of CSR, and the development of the current practices has derived from a specific constellation of truth established by the experience analytical elements, normativity, subjectivity and veridiction. This thesis finds an empirical definition of CSRs realisation to be an erosion of the visual practice and of the term CSR. CSR is by the CSR consultants perceived to be a success when it is absorbed into a natural part of ordinary business practices. To realise this hope, the consultants have developed several strategies historically stepping forward with various significance. We have found the practice of CSR with reference to standards, principles, guidelines and laws as a currently prominent strategy within the field. This tactic, of handle CSRs problematisation through a practice of ratifications, steps forward and transcends preceding ethical and economic normative oriented CSR practices. We present the CSR consultants focus on ratifications as an attempts to establish CSR’s own foundation, its own knowledge and the possibility to determine when CSR is taking place as a perceived necessary condition to realise CSR. This thesis concludes a paradox between the CSR consultants wish of eroding CSR and their defined role as responsible for CSR and their established technical discipline. Finally, we argue that the ethical reflection has been displaced from the practice itself to the practitioner hereof. The CSR consultant personally occupy the responsibility of ethics and it is this personal commitment which preserve the current CSR practice.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages109
SupervisorsMarius Gudmand-Høyer