The effects of location and size on CSR

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Malene Kirk
  • Karoline Haulrik Mortensen
There are differences between the culture in the US and in Denmark, as well as there are differences between large and small organisations. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to examine how the location and size of an organisation affects its approach to CSR.

We have chosen to focus on four different organisations to cover all four aspects of our problem statement, and thus, our cases consist of a Danish SME, an American SME, a large Danish company and a large American company. The companies were chosen with the intent of comparison in mind, and thus, all four organisations work within the software industry to increase the comparability. For our empirical data, we have chosen different kinds of material. We were able to arrange two interviews with the Danish SME, and in addition, we have collected publicly available material to base our analysis on. This consists of, for example, official CSR reports and codes of conduct, blog posts, and employee reviews.

We will apply Matten and Moon's framework about implicit and explicit CSR to the empirical data. The framework elaborates on how different Institutional Factors, such as the Political Systems, and National Business Systems, such as the Nature of the Firm, affect an organisation's approach to CSR. The framework relates to the location of the organisations, and thus, Matten and Moon argue that European companies have an implicit approach while American companies have an explicit approach. In order to answer the problem statement, we have added the aspect of size to the framework, and thus, we elaborate on how capacity and commitment can affect an organisation's approach to CSR.

In order to apply Matten and Moon's framework to our empirical data, we conducted a thematic analysis as this would allow us to be both inductive and deductive. Thus, we could create a code manual prior to the coding process but were still able to extend the code manual with themes that appeared throughout the analysis. We have five overall themes that all relate to CSR, and some have a more internal focus while others have a more external focus. Some of the themes have subthemes that relates to each other and the overall theme. The themes emerged from our knowledge about CSR from the literature review, Matten and Moon's framework, and from the empirical data.

Throughout our research, we have made findings that enable us to answer the problem statement. The Danish SME aligns with Matten and Moon's framework as their approach primarily is implicit. There are explicit aspects in their communication, but their intent is implicit as their initiatives are based on the values within the organisation. In comparison, the US SME is more explicit in their communication as they use different CSR buzzwords to describe themselves as a company. However, they are not very concrete about their initiatives except for their philanthropic actions. The large US company has an explicit intent as they have multiple initiatives such as programs for their employees, while their communication is less explicit. They communicate in a corporate language, and opposite to the large Danish company, they do not communicate their initiatives as CSR. The large Danish company has the most explicit approach which contradicts Matten and Moon's framework. Both intent and communication is explicit as their focus is on initiatives such as green energy and becoming climate neutral while communicating about their initiatives in terms of a Global Compact Report. The location affects the approach to CSR as the importance of certain CSR issues differ in different parts of the world. For example, the US companies are more focused on diversity while the Danish companies are more focused on the environment. Furthermore, the size also affects the approach to CSR as the number and size of initiatives differ between companies of different sizes. For example, the large companies have specific programs, whereas the SMEs focus on initiatives that are smaller and more personal to the employees. Thus, location and size of an organisation do affect its approach to CSR.

We have encountered some limitations in the process of writing this thesis. We had difficulty finding other organisations that were willing to be a part of this assignment through an interview, and thus, we only have the interviews with the Danish SME. Furthermore, we experienced that Matten and Moon's framework is not easily applicable, and thus, it could be difficult to decipher whether or not the organisations' communication and intent were implicit or explicit.
Publication date30 May 2021
Number of pages97
External collaborator IOspect
no name
ID: 413306462