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 10: Standardized CSR and Climate Performance: Why is Shell Willing, but Hydro Reluctant?

Elin Lerum Boasson and Jørgen Wettestad


Elin Lerum Boasson and Jørgen Wettestad INTRODUCTION 10.1 As shown in previous chapters, oil companies are, at least in their rhetoric, front-runners when it comes to engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In particular, they apply a large number of standardized CSR instruments. Further, they tend to perceive climate change as the most important of all societal challenges confronting the industry. Thus, one might assume that they would apply the CSR instruments they adhere to as tools in their efforts towards reducing their contribution to global warming. Whether CSR merely serves to streamline company rhetoric or has an influence on actual efforts has been heatedly debated by stakeholders and scholars alike (for example, Sahlin-Andersson 2006). This chapter explores whether the CSR instruments of the oil industry have merely worked as a rhetorical means or whether they have contributed to alterations in climate-related practices. Two oil companies were selected for study, the comparatively small Norwegian company Hydro and the larger Dutch/ British Shell. They were chosen due to their similarity in CSR portfolios and differences as companies, as elaborated below. Hydro’s petroleum branch was merged with Statoil in spring 2007, after the period which is the focus of this study ( 60 2006–2007). Instruments with standardized approaches for coping with societal issues are central features of the CSR trend. Such instruments involve formal decisions concerning adherence; they are managed and promoted by dedicated secretariats, and they provide global meeting places for their adherents. Against this backdrop, we might expect...

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