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CSR Implementation in Belgium: Institutional Context, the Role of CSR Managers and Stakeholder Involvement

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Abstract

CSR implementation reveals a variety of knowledge gaps in our field of research, especially related to well contextualized and in-depth analysis of the phenomenon. We have examined CSR implementation practices in Belgian organizations. The contribution of this research is obtained through triangulation of research methods and the analysis of the results of three distinct studies. In a first study, we have performed an explorative research with Belgian CSR managers. Next to this, we have conducted in-depth interviews in both private and public organizations. We have investigated to what extent different stakeholders are being involved in implementing corporate social activities (CSAs). Results show that the level of CSR manager involvement is quite divergent, depending on the specific CSA under concern and on the need for CSR expertise. The second and third study point was at the limited structured involvement of other internal and external stakeholders in the context of CSR implementation, in both private and public organizations.

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... The CSR profession is a relatively new profession, and many large companies employ CSR professionals to manage the implementation of CSR (Hutjens, Dentchev, & Haezendonck, 2015). These professionals occupy a somewhat specific position within these companies; similar to other functional managers who work autonomously across the entire company, CSR professionals are often in direct contact with both top management and coworkers (Heiskanen, Thidell, & Rodhe, 2016;Hutjens et al., 2015), and they often lack the formal authority needed to instruct others to integrate CSR into their daily practice (Heiskanen et al., 2016;Osagie, Wesselink, Blok, & Mulder, in press). ...
... The CSR profession is a relatively new profession, and many large companies employ CSR professionals to manage the implementation of CSR (Hutjens, Dentchev, & Haezendonck, 2015). These professionals occupy a somewhat specific position within these companies; similar to other functional managers who work autonomously across the entire company, CSR professionals are often in direct contact with both top management and coworkers (Heiskanen, Thidell, & Rodhe, 2016;Hutjens et al., 2015), and they often lack the formal authority needed to instruct others to integrate CSR into their daily practice (Heiskanen et al., 2016;Osagie, Wesselink, Blok, & Mulder, in press). However, unlike many other functional managers, CSR professionals must deal with many uncertainties and must work extensively with external stakeholders due to the wicked nature of SD challenges . ...
... It could, for example, be that mostly professionals that are inclined toward learning and that are proactive in their learning participated in this research, which might explain why one's learning goal orientation did not interact with the dimensions of a learning climate (i.e., facilitating, rewarding, and error-avoiding learning climate) and why learning goal orientation in particular was important for explaining differences in competencies among CSR managers (Chapter 5). Also, we focused our research on Dutch companies and mainly on multinationals, because CSR managers (i.e., a specific person that is appointed for driving the changes and interventions related to CSR) are mainly found in larger companies (Hutjens, Dentchev, & Haezendonck, 2015;Molteni & Pedrini, 2009). It is well documented, however, that large companies differ from small-and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in a number of respects, aside from simply the number of employees. ...
Thesis
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Contributing to sustainable development remains a challenge for most private companies and many scholars have attempted to identify factors that can facilitate the adaptation process that is needed for effective sustainable practices (hereafter referred to as corporate social responsibility or CSR). This PhD thesis examines the role of learning and human resource development in the CSR adaption process. The key message of this thesis is two-fold. Firstly, because CSR managers are the ones who actually manage the adaptation process they can play a crucial role in this process if they possess the right individual competencies. In order to develop these individual competencies, CSR managers should take ownership of their learning process and seek opportunities to learn with and from others. Secondly, adequate leadership and connecting with external parties are of particular importance to the CSR adaptation process. We hope that by developing the relevant CSR-related competencies, CSR managers will effectively manage the CSR adaptation process and more ambitious sustainability challenges are successfully addressed by private companies.
... Yet, in practice, many companies, and particular well-established companies, seem to struggle with internalizing CSR principles (Carroll and Shabana 2010;Aguinis and Glavas 2012). As such, in recent years many large companies have employed CSR managers to assist them and manage the CSR adaptation process (Hutjens et al. 2015). These CSR managers are the ones who actually strategize, make decisions, manage, and sometimes execute CSR practices (Osagie et al. 2016). ...
... Their role within companies is in some respect similar to that mainstream functional managers. They work autonomously across the entire company and, therefore, are often in direct contact with both top management and coworkers (Heiskanen et al. 2016;Hutjens et al. 2015). Like other functional managers, they often lack the formal authority needed to instruct others to integrate CSR into their daily practice (Heiskanen et al. 2016;Osagie et al. 2016). ...
... Yet, in practice, many companies, and particular well-established companies, seem to struggle with internalizing CSR principles (Carroll and Shabana 2010; Aguinis and Glavas 2012). As such, in recent years many large companies have employed CSR managers to assist them and manage the CSR adaptation process (Hutjens et al. 2015). These CSR managers are the ones who actually strategize, make decisions, manage, and sometimes execute CSR practices ). ...
... Their role within companies is in some respect similar to that mainstream functional managers. They work autonomously across the entire company and, therefore, are often in direct contact with both top management and coworkers (Heiskanen et al. 2016;Hutjens et al. 2015). Like other functional managers they often lack the formal authority needed to instruct others to integrate CSR into their daily practice (Heiskanen et al. 2016;Osagie et al. 2016). ...
... Some of them indicated that important factors of CSR were corporate ethics based on religion, environmental aspects, social values, ethical audits, commitment of top-level management, and reward for good ethical practices. However, the involvement of the middle-and low-level managers is quite divergent, depending on the specific corporate social activities (Hutjens et al., 2015) Based on the relevant literature we developed the following general research questions (RQs): ...
... Divergent results were shown in some research on middle-and lower-level managers' perception. Some scholars found that religion, social sensitivity, and culture are significant aspects of CSR (Djajadikerta et al., 2009;Hutjens et al., 2015). ...
Chapter
The aim of this study is to find out the managers’ perception of employment practices and human rights for Indonesian women employee. The research was conducted by using a quantitative and qualitative approach. Data collection was gathered through a questionnaire before performing the Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U tests that compare the managers’ perception. The samples for the research were top-, middle-, and low-level managers in Indonesian companies. Three primary managers’ perceptions concerning human rights were found. They are requirement of a particular unit to handle discrimination complaint, guarantee of rights to associate and give opinions, and workforce. There are also three primary managers’ perceptions on employment practices. They are sexual harassment, time flexibility for breastfeeding, and training for counseling facilities and employee risk anticipation. The originality of this study is empirical exploration of multilevel managers’ perception of women employment practices and human rights in Indonesia.
... Tandé (2013) identifie une variété d'acteurs qui ont probablement exercé une influence sur l'émergence de la diversité en Belgique, parmi lesquels des multinationales, des consultants et des spécialistes des ressources humaines ainsi que des universitaires, principalement issus des sciences du management et désireux d'articuler la gestion de la diversité avec la RSE nouvellement créée (Tandé 2013). Cette dernière est apparue en Belgique vers les années 2000, lorsqu'un cadre juridique a commencé à être mis en oeuvre pour pousser les organisations privées et publiques vers plus de responsabilité sociale (Louche et al 2009, Hutjens, Dentchev et Haezendonck 2015. ...
Article
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Le mot diversité est devenu omniprésent dans les discours contemporains en Belgique francophone. En analysant, manuellement et à l’aide d’un logiciel d’analyse lexicométrique, un corpus de presse s’étalant sur une période de 20 ans à partir du début des années 2000, moment où le mot dans son usage contemporain commence à apparaître, cette recherche montre comment est cadrée la diversité dans les médias belges francophones et comment est construit le problème public y étant lié. L’analyse montre que le problème de la diversité se construit progressivement dans les médias, à mesure que certains acteurs promeuvent la question et que les journalistes couvrent ces événements et événements discursifs. Le concept est éclairé par différents acteurs, agendas et politiques, du monde de la culture à celui des entreprises. En résulte une variété d’usages qui ajoute progressivement au sens du mot diversité et à la collocation diversité culturelle .
... The results may not be extrapolated to the total population of organizations since the number of large companies represents, in comparative terms, a minority that is not representative of European businesses. Small-and medium-sized enterprises, although they have a lesser degree of systematization in their HRM, can present high levels of commitment to practices and policies that are likely to improve the quality of their employees' work and life (Hutjens, Dentchev, & Haezendonck, 2015). ...
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Socially responsible human resource management (SR‐HRM) is becoming increasingly important for academics and managers. The interface between HRM and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the subject of analysis in this article. It adopts a contextual perspective to analyze whether the institutional context influences the implementation of socially responsible HRM (SR‐HRM). Considering the differences in the national institutional contexts across Europe, this study explores the different models of SR‐HRM in that region. The research is focused on a sample of 153 companies headquartered in Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The findings evidence the influence exerted by the national institutional context on the implementation of SR‐HRM. Differences among country clusters suggest the existence of different models of SR‐HRM in Europe. However, these models do not correspond to the blocks on HRM or on CSR identified by the literature but instead provide a novel categorization.
... Moreover, these professionals must work in environments where there is little support for CSR available or where employees are ambivalent toward the proposed changes. For example, because the beneficial effects of CSR to the company are often not immediately observable (Heiskanen et al. 2015;Hutjens et al. 2015;Wijdoogen 2016). ...
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The implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives within companies is often managed by a CSR leader or a small team of CSR leaders. The effectiveness of these CSR leaders depends to a large extent on their competencies. Previous studies have identified the competencies these professionals need, yet it remains unclear how these competencies can be developed. Therefore, the aim of this survey study was to reveal how CSR leaders develop their competencies and to explore which learning activities CSR leaders (N = 176) engage in. Check the article for the results... You can also download the article here (copy paste it): http://rdcu.be/udcp
Chapter
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Chapter
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Socially responsible business and ethical behaviour of companies have been of interest to academia and practice for decades. But the focus has almost exclusively been on large corporations while small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have not received as much attention. Thus, this paper focuses on socially responsible business practices of SME entrepreneurs or owner-managers in Germany. Based on the assumption that decision-makers in SMEs are the central point where all business activities start, members of a German entrepreneurs association were approached in the course of a qualitative and quantitative survey. They were asked to assess in what way their social responsibility is expressed in specific management practices towards selected stakeholder groups. These practices in turn were assumed to result in perceived positive reactions of the respective stakeholders and subsequently to positively influence the firm's financial performance, i.e. cost reductions and increase in profits. In the paper, a research model is presented that elaborates the relationship between an SME executive's social responsibility and the value creation of a firm, i.e. whether (personal) values create (economic) value. It was found that socially responsible management practices towards employees, customers and to a lesser extent society have a positive impact on the firm and its performance. As such, values can create additional value.
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This article reflects upon the practical experiences gained by 19 companies with structuring corporate social responsibility within the framework of the programme ‘From Financial to Sustainable Profit’ of the National Initiative for Sustainable Development (NIDO), that was run from May 2000 to December 2002. Based on the available literature and the views of representatives from the participating companies, a structured approach towards corporate social responsibility has been designed and tested in practice. In this process, the company representatives were confronted with various knowledge gaps, some of which could not be solved during the NIDO programme. Therefore, recommendations for bridging these gaps are made.
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Governments, activists, and the media have become adept at holding companies to account for the social consequences of their actions. In response, corporate social responsibility has emerged as an inescapable priority for business leaders in every country. Frequently, though, CSR efforts are counterproductive, for two reasons. First, they pit business against society, when in reality the two are interdependent. Second, they pressure companies to think of corporate social responsibility in generic ways instead of in the way most appropriate to their individual strategies. The fact is, the prevailing approaches to CSR are so disconnected from strategy as to obscure many great opportunities for companies to benefit society. What a terrible waste. If corporations were to analyze their opportunities for social responsibility using the same frameworks that guide their core business choices, they would discover, as Whole Foods Market, Toyota, and Volvo have done, that CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed--it can be a potent source of innovation and competitive advantage. In this article, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer propose a fundamentally new way to look at the relationship between business and society that does not treat corporate growth and social welfare as a zero-sum game. They introduce a framework that individual companies can use to identify the social consequences of their actions; to discover opportunities to benefit society and themselves by strengthening the competitive context in which they operate; to determine which CSR initiatives they should address; and to find the most effective ways of doing so. Perceiving social responsibility as an opportunity rather than as damage control or a PR campaign requires dramatically different thinking--a mind-set, the authors warn, that will become increasingly important to competitive success.
Article
While corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming a mainstream issue for many organizations, most of the research to date addresses CSR in large businesses rather than in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), because it is too often considered a prerogative of large businesses only. The role of SMEs in an increasingly dynamic context is now being questioned, including what factors might affect their socially responsible behaviour. The goal of this paper is to make a comparison of SME and large firm CSR strategies. Furthermore, size of the firm is analyzed as a factor that influences specific choices in the CSR field, and studied by means of a sample of 3,680 Italian firms. Based on a multi-stakeholder framework, the analysis provides evidence that large firms are more likely to identify relevant stakeholders and meet their requirements through specific and formal CSR strategies.
Article
While Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has traditionally been the domain of the corporate sector, recognition of the growing significance of the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) sector has led to an emphasis on their social and environmental impact, illustrated by an increasing number of initiatives aimed at engaging SMEs in the CSR agenda. CSR has been well researched in large companies, but SMEs have received less attention in this area. This paper presents the findings from a U.K. wide study of socially responsible SMEs. The 24 companies studied were chosen as “exemplarsâ€\x9D ofâ\x90£CSR in SMEs. The aim of this study therefore is to progress understanding of both the limitations on and opportunities for CSR in SMEs through the exploration of exemplary characteristics in the study companies. Key areas of investigation were CSR terminology, the influence of managerial values, the nature of SME CSR activities, motivation for and benefits from engaging in CSR, and the challenges faced. The results of this study demonstrate some of the exemplary goals and principles needed to achieve social responsibility in SMEs, and begin to provide knowledge that could be used to engender learning in other SMEs. In particular, there is evidence that stakeholder theory may provide a framework in which SMEs and CSR can be understood. SMEs prefer to learn through networking and from their peers, so this is a possible avenue for greater SME engagement in CSR. This would require strong leadership or “championingâ€\x9D from individuals such as highly motivated owner–managers and from exemplary companies as a whole. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006
Article
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an increasingly pervasive phenomenon on the European and North American economic and political landscape. In this paper, we extend neo-institutional and stakeholder theory to show how differences in the institutional environments of Europe and the United States affect expectations about corporate responsibilities to society. We focus on how these differences are manifested in government policy, corporate strategy, and non-governmental organization (NGO) activism towards specific issues involving the social responsibilities of corporations. Drawing from recent theoretical and empirical research, and analysis of three case studies (global warming, trade in genetically modified organisms, and pricing of anti-viral pharmaceuticals in developing countries), we find that different institutional structures and political legacies in the US and EU are important factors in explaining how governments, NGOs, and the broader polity determine and implement preferences regarding CSR in these two important world regions. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2006.
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