Reframing strategic corporate responsibility : from economic instrumentalism and stakeholder thinking to awareness and sustainable development

Pasi Heikkurinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

This thesis attempts to reframe the field of strategic corporate responsibility by examining the responsibility of corporations in terms of their strategic means and ends. The focus is on the research problem of how responsibility and strategy should be connected in a business organization in order for it to become a responsible corporation and contribute to sustainable development. The thesis comprises four research articles, two of which are empirical and two conceptual extensions to the empirical research. The methods employed were single and multiple qualitative case studies rooted in the constructivist tradition of science. Four case companies were selected from the food industry and one case company from the hospitality industry. Altogether, 23 managers in the Finnish and Swedish business context were interviewed. In business organizations there is a need to reframe the theorizing and practicing of strategic corporate responsibility, as the conventional market-capability perspective was found inadequate. The market-capability perspective is characterized by (a) an extrinsic responsibility orientation through the logic of economic instrumentalism, and (b) an external and internal strategy orientation through stakeholder thinking. This conventional perspective is inadequate for an organization to become responsible, firstly because it leads to multiple and competing corporate identities that do not reflect a coherent image. Secondly, the conventional perspective assumes weak sustainability that does not lead to sustainable development in both space and time. To address the shortcomings of the conventional perspective, inclusion of the awareness-sustainability perspective is suggested. This alternative posits that firstly an organization should insource its ethical considerations in order to develop a responsible identity and thus become perceived as a responsible entity, and secondly, an organization should assume strong sustainability in order to reach sustainable development over both space and time. Therefore, in order become a responsible corporation and contribute to sustainable development, responsibility and strategy should be connected in a business organization from the awareness-sustainability perspective.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Lovio, Raimo, Supervising Professor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5363-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5364-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Keywords

  • management
  • companies
  • corporate responsibility
  • strategy
  • stakeholders
  • sustainable development
  • image
  • identity
  • food industry
  • restaurants
  • hotels

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