Institutions and agency in CSR strategy: an empirical investigation of development and implementation

Bondy, Krista (2008) Institutions and agency in CSR strategy: an empirical investigation of development and implementation. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This PhD research started from an interest in how corporate social responsibility (CSR) works in practice and in identifying how to motivate companies to actively and meaningfully engage in CSR. It was further motivated by findings from previous research projects (Bondy et al 2004, Bondy 2006, Bondy 2007, Bondy et al 2008 forthcoming) which highlighted both the need for research in the area of CSR implementation, and the interesting issues around how corporations deal with the complexities of governing themselves in a global marketplace.

Therefore, this research investigates the systems and processes involved in developing and implementing CSR strategy in a transboundary environment, so as to create academically relevant and practically useful results. To accomplish this task, a range of literatures were evaluated, focusing on CSR and how it is implementation, and NI theory as an analytical framework for understanding CSR in its broader context. A review of these literatures revealed a number of gaps from within CSR and NI theory to which this research responds. The two most significant gaps for this research are 1. the need for empirically based, practically useful and detailed guidance on developing and implementing CSR that is relevant in the transboundary context, and 2. a need to better understand the role of agency at the level of the single organization and of the individual.

The research is underpinned by a subjectivist ontology, an interpretive epistemology and a multi-method design. It is exploratory, inductive research with two primary data sets gathered from managers who are functionally responsible for implementing CSR strategy (40 semi-structured key informant interviews), and from individuals within a company struggling to develop and implement CSR on a daily basis (single 'typical' case). Each data set is used to better understand development and implementation of CSR strategy from two different perspectives (presentational and operational) for a more holistic investigation of this underdeveloped area in the literature.

This resulted in a range of contributions to CSR and NI literature primarily through providing shape and definition to the existence of an institution of CSR. The data provide empirical evidence to suggest the nature of the constraining and enabling characteristics of CSR, through such contributions identifying a set of standardized practices, the key internal and external pressures for engaging in CSR and strategic responses to it. The institution of CSR also acts as a competitor to the traditional business model, providing opportunities for political behaviour and the destabilization of both institutions.

Therefore, this research provides a contribution to knowledge by providing conceptual and empirical insights into how CSR is developed an implemented in a transboundary environment, by providing a partial characterization of an institution of CSR, and identifying a novel mode of institutional change. This study also contributes to management practice by providing guidance to companies on how to develop and implement CSR strategy, and some of the strategic responses they may use to respond to the pressures and opportunities presented by CSR.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Moon, J.W.
Matten, D.
Uncontrolled Keywords:corporate social responsibility, sustainability, implementation, institutional theory, qualitative methods, case study, interviews, strategy, relevant to practice, power, agency
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
ID Code:586
Deposited By:Krista Bondy
Deposited On:07 Nov 2008
Last Modified:06 Feb 2009 14:44

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