CSR as a Management Idea
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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.
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Chapter 7: Conflicts surrounding the CSR manager

Tommy Borglund and Peter Norberg


CSR gives rise to conflicts at the top of today’s organizations. Individuals and units in top management have varying views on CSR, depending on their personal backgrounds, work tasks, and the priorities of companies. CSR affects many different functions in organizations, including those in charge of investment relations, personnel matters, economic governance, finance, IT, quality and environment. Friction arises between these groups when a company adapts to the management idea of CSR. There can be conflicts both when these groups must come to a consensus internally, as well as in the company’s dealings with external stakeholders. In Chapter 8, Magnus Frostenson discusses the difficulties that arise when CSR ‘travels’ into the organization. There are obvious problems with implementing ethics in organizations, and organizational members can find it hard to assimilate the CSR rules decided on. Such difficulties are due in part to deficiencies in (in this order) knowledge, perceived relevance, formalization and, finally, normative consensus (Frostenson 2009). Here, we describe some additional difficulties of implementing CSR programmess and discuss the conflict-filled role that many CSR managers find themselves in. In Chapter 3, we discussed the concept of ‘talking responsibility’, that is, how organizations communicate outwardly that they work with CSR, and how this affects an organization’s legitimacy. As we pointed out in Chapter 3, ‘talking responsibility’ is a relatively new phenomenon in the case of Sweden. If we look at companies with head offices in Sweden, or ‘Swedish companies’, as we shall call them here, we find that the use of CSR constitutes a field of conflict.

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