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CSR Reading Group

Today’s organizations - ranging from large multinational corporations to not-for profit, community-based and government agencies, are increasingly challenged by numerous societal and stakeholder demands to fulfill their core “business” and economic objectives while ensuring a certain level of public accountability as well as addressing social, environmental, and ethical concerns. For example, recent social indicators suggest that global organizational expansion is viewed as a contributor to economic growth with negative implications such as social inequities, environmental deterioration and fraudulent and unethical behaviors.  Hence, it has become even more essential to thoroughly focus on understanding issues associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR).  As one of the major research axes of the Center for Capitalism, Globalization and Governance, the CSR area will help understand, expand and disseminate knowledge to stakeholders on the roles and responsibilities of different types of organizations within society, under various perspectives and disciplines such as organizational theory, marketing, accounting, finance, strategy, operations management, economics, business law, private/public policy, business ethics and information systems and decision sciences.

Past CSR Reading Groups:

30th April 2014 - (12h-13h30)
Convener: Martin Freedman (Towson University)

Tone at the Top: CEO Environmental Leadership and Environmental Performance
In this study we attempted to ascertain the environmental leadership and commitment of the CEO as evidence of “tone at the top” in the belief that this would lead to enhanced environmental performance. We measure “tone at the top” by the environmental disclosure score which is collected from a content analysis of CEO letters to shareholders. We adopt the two environmental performance measures: (1) Environmental Impact Score (EIS) from Newsweek Green Ranking and (2) Modeled Hazard Population Results (MHPR) based on Risk-Screening Environmental Indicator (RSEI) models built by EPA.  The results indicate that the environmental disclosure score from the CEO letter is inversely correlated with environmental performance. Furthermore, the qualitative analysis reveals that CEOs of poor performing firms are more likely to use the linguistic strategies for legitimation in their letters to shareholders than good performers do. The overall findings support legitimacy theory in that CEOs essentially “spin” firms’ environmental performance so it looks better than it actually is.

29th January 2014 - (12h-13h30) 
Convener: Susan Van Schie (ESSEC and ETH Zurich)

Corporate volunteering as a practice of CSR
The practice of corporate volunteering has grown rapidly in recent decades (e.g., Booth, Park, & Glomb, 2009; Grant, 2012; Peloza, Hudson, & Hassay, 2009; Peterson, 2004; Rodell, 2013). Promoted as an employee-centered understanding of CSR (Wood, 2007), corporate volunteering programs are expected to have positive effects on corporate reputation, on recruitment of qualified applicants, or on employee commitment (cf. Grant, 2012). Even though the topic is of high relevance to CSR practitioners, corporate volunteering remained largely under-researched, resulting in a lack of theory as well as empirical evidence. The first paper by Adam Grant (2012) reviews literature on corporate volunteering and proposes a theoretical model based on volunteer motives, role identity and work design theories to explain sustained employee participation. The second paper by Jessica Rodell (2013) provides empirical findings on how job meaningfulness is related to corporate volunteering and on how corporate volunteering affects job performance.
  • Grant, A. M. (2012). Giving Time, Time After Time: Work Design and Sustained Employee Participation in Corporate Volunteering. Academy of Management Review, 37(4), 589–615.
  • Rodell, J. B. (2013). Finding Meaning Through Volunteering: Why Do Employees Volunteer and What Does It Mean for Their Jobs? Academy of Management Journal, 56(5), 1274–1294.

6th November 2013 - N305 (12h - 13h)
Convener: Adrian Zicari (ESSEC)

CSR in the context of Management Control Systems
CSR is frequently considered in the context of reporting, i.e. information to third parties. However, there is comparatively less work published about CSR in management control systems (MCS). The ongoing discussion about what companies disclose and fail to disclose about sustainability tends to overlook the fact that company managers may be not completely aware about what really happens inside their own companies. Therefore, two readings are proposed for this session to open the discussion on this topic. First, a more theoretically oriented paper recently written by Gond and his colleagues (2012), who propose a framework for integrating sustainability issues in MCS and then a case study conducted by Durden (2008) about a company very committed to CSR but that has encountered some challenges in actually orienting its MCS towards CSR. 

15th of May 2013. 12-2pm, room N405.
Convener: Joel Bothello (ESSEC)

CSR and Sustainability - Points of Commonality and Divergence
Research on corporate sustainability has flourished along with CSR in the past decade, with a highly visible emphasis on issues of external reporting, standards and certification systems. This focus predominantly highlights the effect of sustainability initiatives on organizational legitimacy and performance, generally at the expense of issues internal to the organization. In particular, there is a paucity of work on how sustainability is interpreted by organizational members, and how narratives are constructed around this concept. As such, the purpose of this reading group is to investigate the interpretation of sustainability by internal actors, including the meanings and contradictions of the term (Gray, 2010). In addition, we will also discuss how entrepreneurs can use sustainability values to shape organizational design from the very outset (Parrish, 2010). 

  • Rob Gray. 2010. Is accounting for sustainability actually accounting for sustainability. . .and how would we know? An exploration of narratives of organisations and the planet. Accounting, Organizations and Society 35 (2010) 47–62
  • Bradley D. Parrish. 2010. Sustainability-driven entrepreneurship: Principles of organization design. Journal of Business Venturing 25 (2010) 510–523

27th of February 2013, 12-2pm, Room N305

Convener: Mac Thai Hai Duong
In this session, we focus on CSR in Marketing - The Logic and Controversy concerning its status as a valuable guide to marketing.
  • John Williams and 
    Robert Aitken. 2011. 
    The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing 
    and Marketing Ethics. 
    Journal of Business Ethics (2011) 102:439–454
  • Andrew Crane, John Desmond. 2002. "Societal marketing and morality", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 36 Iss: 5 pp. 548 - 569

18th of January 2013, 12-2pm, Room N305

In this session, we focus on exploring common projects to submit for a special issue at the Journal of Management Studies, called "Managing for Political Corporate Social Responsibility" in August 2013.

  • Jukka Mäkinen & Arno Kourula. 2012. Pluralism in Political Corporate Social Responsibility. Business Ethics Quarterly.
  • David Antony Detomasi. 2008. The Political Roots of Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics (2008) 82:807–819

21st of November 2012, 12-2pm, Room N305
Conveners: Helen Etchanchu and Marion Ligonie

In the session we will focus on crossing theories and levels. Given its inherent transversality, CSR offers great opportunities for developing and testing multidisciplinary, multidimensional and multilevel analyses. One of the key questions driving our discussion will be: “How can we mobilize and integrate different theories to overcome the current silos in levels of analysis and disciplines applied to CSR?”
  • Gond and Matten. 2010. "Reconsidering the Organization-Society Interface: A Pluralistic Framework on Corporate Social Responsibility". currently under review at Organization Studies
  • Helms, Oliver and Webb . 2012. "Antecedents of Settlement on a New Institutional Practice: Negotiation of the ISO 26000 Standard on Social Responsibility" Academy of Management Journal 2012, Vol. 55, No. 5, 1120–1145.

Feedback on first reading group