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Stakeholder mapping of CSR in Switzerland

Looser, S and Wehrmeyer, WCH (2015) Stakeholder mapping of CSR in Switzerland Social Responsibility Journal, 11 (4). pp. 780-830.

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Purpose – This paper aims to investigate, using stakeholder map methodology, showing power, urgency, legitimacy and concerns of different actors, the current state of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Switzerland. Previous research on CSR in Europe has made few attempts to identify stakeholders and their contribution to this topic. Design/methodology/approach – To derive this map, publicly available documents were explored, augmented by 27 interviews with key stakeholders (consumers, media, government, trade unions, non-profit organisations [NPOs], banks, certifiers and consultants) and management of different companies (multinational enterprises [MNEs], small- and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] and large national companies). Using MAXQDA, the quantified codes given for power, legitimacy and urgency were triangulated between self-reporting, external assessments and statements from publicly available documents and subsequently transferred into stakeholder priorities or, in other words, into positions in the map. Further, the codes given in the interviews for different CSR interests and the results from the document analysis were linked between stakeholders. The identified concerns and priorities were quantitatively analysed in regard to centrality and salience using VennMaker. Findings – The paper identified SMEs, MNEs and cooperating NPOs as being the most significant stakeholders, in that order. CSR is, therefore, not driven primarily by regulators, market pressure or customers. Further network parameters substantiated the importance of SMEs while following an unconventionally informal and idiosyncratic CSR approach. Hence, insights into these ethics-driven, unformalised business models that pursue broader responsibility based on trust, traditional values, regional anchors and the willingness to “give something back” were formed. Examples of this strong CSR habit include democratic decisions and abolished hierarchies, handshake instead of formal contracts and transparency in all respects (e.g. performance indicators, salaries and bonuses). Research limitations/implications – In total, 27 interviews as primary data that supplements publicly available documents are clearly only indicative. Practical implications – The research found an innovative, vibrant and practical CSR model that is emerging for reasons other than conventional CSR agendas that are supposed to evolve. In fact, the stakeholder map and the CSR practices may point at a very different role businesses have adopted in Switzerland. Such models offer a useful, heuristic evaluation of the contribution of formal management systems (e.g. as could be found in MNEs) in comparison to the unformalised SME business conduct. Originality/value – A rarely reported and astonishing feature of many of the very radical SME practices found in this study is that their link to commercial strategies was, in most cases, not seen. However, SMEs are neither the “poor relative” nor the abridged version of CSR, but are manifesting CSR as a Swiss set of values that fits the societal culture and the visionary goals of SME owners/managers and governs how a sustainably responsible company should behave. Hence, as a new stance and argument within CSR-related research, this paper concludes that “informal” does not mean “weak”. This paper covers a myriad of management fields, e.g. CSR as strategic tool in business ethics; stakeholder and network management; decision-making; and further theoretical frameworks, such as transaction cost and social capital theory. In other words, this research closes scientific gaps by at once applying quantitative as well as qualitative methods and by merging, for the first time, network methodology with CSR and stakeholder research

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Environmental Strategy
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Authors :
Date : 2015
Identification Number : 10.1108/SRJ-06-2014-0071
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Uncontrolled Keywords : Switzerland, Corporate social responsibility, Network analysis, Small and medium-sized enterprises, Stakeholder analysis
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 29 Jul 2016 15:28
Last Modified : 29 Jul 2016 15:28

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