CSR as a Management Idea

CSR as a Management Idea

Ethics in Action

Edited by Mats Jutterström and Peter Norberg

CSR (corporate social responsibility) has become a widely diffused concept in the business world. This book explores CSR as a management idea, that is, as a tool for organizational reform. It shows that CSR has much in common with other popular management ideas such as lean production, total-quality-management, just-in-time, business-process-reengineering and six sigma, but there are also significant differences.

Chapter 8: CSR travels into the organization

Magnus Frostenson

Subjects: business and management, asia business, business ethics and trust


In Chapters 5 and 6, we talked about how consultants spread CSR by various means, including adapting the idea of CSR to services in a market and, in Chapter 7, we explained how managing CSR is not entirely uncomplicated for management teams when CSR services and perceptions of CSR reach the organization. This chapter will build on this discussion from an internal organizational perspective. It asks what happens to CSR as an idea when it travels into an organization and is applied there. The chapter uses the theoretical considerations presented in Chapter 2 as a starting point. The purpose here is to create an understanding of what happens in the organization and what happens with the idea itself when introduced to the business activities. It will be argued that CSR is ‘translated’. This is due to the fact that CSR often takes the form of a vague management idea that not only shapes the organization, but is also shaped by the organization and is synchronized with other ideas. A case study of a Scandinavian company in the financial industry supports the arguments. The study is based on interviews with senior executives and an employee survey. Employee involvement is often considered a prerequisite for the successful introduction of a management idea. Involving employees in the CSR work requires some form of awareness-raising or direct governance in the internal organizational context. Collier and Esteban (2007), for example, believe that it is the employees, not the board or consultants, who bear the main responsibility for realizing responsible action in the day-to-day life of the company.

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