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Bähr, Marret, 2015. Exploring CSR : an investigation of the Corporate Social Responsibility concept and the influence of the individual on its implementation. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



The idea of ‘business as usual’ in our neoliberal profit-oriented economy is not sustainable and must
be changed in order to avoid future social and environmental crisis. Starting and promoting Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) programs has become very popular among organizations as they are trying
to adapt to and even exceed the rising societal demand for sustainable business practices. Despite its
popularity, CSR is just a concept and its success depends on the implementation of the individual within
the organization. In this thesis, I explore how and why individuals understand CSR in general and
responsibility, as a key term for the concept, especially. Furthermore, I am attempting to comprehend
how the individuals’ sensemaking affects their behaviour. To answer the demand for a more thorough
and subjective investigation of CSR, I carried out a qualitative research in phenomenological terms. I
explored the CSR concept in a detailed literature review regarding the different aspects that influence
the concept and motivate its implementation. To recreate and understand the CSR context of key
individuals, e.g. managers and higher ranking employees, and their sense making processes, I
conducted semi-structured interviews in the county of Schleswig Holstein in Northern Germany.
Analyzing the empirical material, recreating the interviewees’ subjectivities and combining them with
theoretical knowledge from CSR related literature, my findings convey that CSR might lead to
improvements within our neoliberal system, but will not change the system as such. Structures, e.g. the
economic purpose of profit generation and market mechanism prevent the individual from acting
according to personal environmental and social values. To emphasize the importance of the individual
in the implementation, I explored the relation between CSR and Environmental Communication. My
findings suggest that they both include strategic communication aimed at the representation and
legitimization of certain interests, suggesting that similar concepts can be used for very different
purposes. However, to achieve a more sustainable future, we need a collective change of values and
enable ourselves to think and act outside of the neoliberal framework.

Main title:Exploring CSR
Subtitle:an investigation of the Corporate Social Responsibility concept and the influence of the individual on its implementation
Authors:Bähr, Marret
Supervisor:Alarcón Ferrari, Cristián and Hansen, Hans Peter
Examiner:von Essen, Erica and Hallgren, Lars
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2015
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:CSR, subjectivity, responsibility, Environmental Communication, neoliberal, phenomenology, values, change, sustainability
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural economics and policies
Social sciences, humanities and education
Deposited On:13 Jul 2015 13:33
Metadata Last Modified:13 Jul 2015 13:33

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