Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe
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Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe

Rhetoric and Realities

Edited by Regine Barth and Franziska Wolff

The acid test of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is simply this: does it lead to positive impacts on society and the environment or is it just rhetoric? And if it does lead to positive impacts, how can these be enhanced? This timely book tackles this cutting-edge challenge by presenting empirical findings from a range of surveys and in-depth case studies. These build on a new methodological and theoretical framework for assessing and explaining the sustainability impact of CSR.
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Chapter 4: Introduction to the Surveys

Katharina Schmitt


Katharina Schmitt The following chapters contain the core results of structurally similar surveys carried out on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in four European sectors in 2005 and 2006: the oil industry, fish processors, the banking sector and the automotive supply chain.1 While the surveys in the first three industries focused on large companies, the latter sample included small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) only. The surveys form one core part of this book’s empirical analysis of CSR in selected companies and of its potential contribution to sustainability. The selection of companies mirrors this research interest in CSR performance and impact by focusing on CSR ‘leaders’ and in particular on companies active in the targeted issue areas. These include the mitigation of climate change, the promotion of gender equality and the countering of bribery in all four sectors analyzed. Additionally, the issue of minimizing chemicals risks was added for all but the banking sector, and concerns about sustainable fisheries were integrated as a key issue among fish processors. With sample sizes ranging from 8 to 17 companies, the questionnairebased surveys are not representative. Rather, they can provide qualitative insights into the framing, implementation and – to some initial extent – effects of CSR in different sectors, different issue areas and across different company sizes. Excepting minor variations necessary because of issue specific and sectoral differences, the survey questionnaires all follow the same structure: they cover the CSR commitment, strategies, implementation and performance of the companies selected, following a schematized implementation path (Figure 4.1). In...

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