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 9: CSR Practices Across Four Sectors: A Synthesis of the Surveys

Katharina Schmitt


Katharina Schmitt INTRODUCTION 9.1 This chapter synthesizes the four sector surveys presented in the preceding chapters. It provides evidence from the empirical research carried out among 49 European companies in four sectors in late 2005. The aim of the synthesis is to present similarities and differences in companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perceptions, policies and implementation approaches (and hence CSR output and outcome) across sectors, issue areas and company sizes. The comparison is made in percentages in order to compare the fractions of the samples at hand. Given the sometimes small and also varying sizes of the samples, and given the fact that the samples are not random, this is not meant as a representative characterization. Through the synthesis, we identify three remarkable patterns. Firstly, independent of sector and size, the companies frame the concept of CSR not so much as a beyond-compliance strategy but rather as a means to enhance compliance with law. Secondly, by and large, the companies’ CSR approaches are linked to and coherent with their core business, rather than ‘bolt-on’. Thirdly, there is a distinct divide between the oil and banking sectors, on the one hand, and the fish processing industry and automotive sector SMEs, on the other, with regard to the development stage (or ‘maturity’) of their CSR approaches. In general, sector differences seem to better account for variance in CSR output and outcome than differences in issues or company size. 9.2 COMMON INTERPRETATION OF RESPONSIBILITY: FOCUSING ON COMPLIANCE When asked how they understand their...

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