Research on the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has revealed the critical role of CSR departments vis-à-vis functional departments. While both CSR and functional departments influence CSR implementation, the question of how they work together remains underexamined. We address this question by mobilizing and merging two complementary yet separate perspectives on CSR implementation: “coordination” and “enactment.” Building on a comparative case study involving seven large Swiss financial institutions that have established CSR departments and implemented CSR to varying extents, we inductively derive six courses of actions conducing to CSR implementation, involving both coordination and enactment. We distinguish between four courses of actions in the CSR departments (centralizing, coalescing, orchestrating, and consulting) and two courses of actions in the functional departments (decentralizing and tailoring). As our data suggest that coordination and enactment work in tandem, we capture these insights in a model of CSR implementation as coordinated enactment. Our research contributes to the literature by explaining how CSR departments and functional departments enact and simultaneously coordinate CSR at a particular implementation stage, thus illuminating how and why the variance in CSR implementation occurs.

Risi, D., & Wickert, C., & Ramus, T. (2022). Coordinated enactment: How organizational departments work together to implement CSR. Business & Societyhttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00076503221110213.

Research applying institutional theory to corporate social responsibility (CSR) has experienced remarkable momentum. Institutional theory-based CSR research illustrates the role of values in guiding both agentic choices for CSR and the influence of institutional structures on CSR agency. Although values have been explored in this literature, systematic studies of values that seek to gain insights into the mutual relationship between agentic choices and structures are lacking. Such insights are crucial for exploring whether and how CSR is enabled or constrained. We thus ask two interrelated questions: (1) What is the role of values in institutional theory-based CSR research? (2) How and along which avenues should future institutional theory-based CSR research that focuses on values be mobilised? Based on our analysis of this line of literature from 1989 until 2021, first, we take stock of established institutional theory perspectives on CSR and disentangle what role values have played in this literature. Second, we outline how to mobilise values in future institutional CSR research based on four promising but under-investigated areas. From our literature analysis, two central functions emerge (which we label ‘bridging’ and ‘referencing’) that values can perform in the institutional analysis of CSR. Based on these two functions, our values-focused framework will help scholars examine the moral foundations that inform business–society interactions as well as understand how companies can responsibly manage those interactions with societal stakeholders.

 

Integrated reporting has widely been promoted as the next evolutionary step in corporate disclosure, which would soon replace traditional reporting practices. Embedded in a zeitgeist that favors sustainability, this outlook would suggest high integrated reporting adoption rates among reporting organizations. Our analysis of integrated reporting in Germany from 2008 to 2019 shows, however, that organizations approached integrated reporting with a wait-and-see mentality. This approach cannot be described adequately by the existing conceptualizations of (partial) practice adoption. We therefore develop the notion of wait-and-see-ism, defined as the deliberate and potentially long-lasting postponement of a decision to adopt a practice while its further development is monitored silently. We see limited, though continuous, efforts to prepare for the prospect of adopting the practice of integrated reporting quickly at a later stage. Wait-and-see-ism expands on prior work on partial adoption by emphasizing its temporal dimension. This adds an important yet undertheorized option that organizations can employ to respond to ambiguous institutional demands, thus explaining the stalling of promising management practices.

Endenich C, Hahn R, Reimsbach D, Wickert C (2022). Wait-and-see-ism as partial adoption of management practices: The rise and stall of integrated reporting. Strategic Organization. doi:10.1177/14761270221078605

It’s been more than 50 years since HAL, the malevolent computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, first terrified audiences by turning against the astronauts he was supposed to protect. That cinematic moment captures what many of us still fear in AI: that it may gain superhuman powers and subjugate us. But instead of worrying about futuristic sci-fi nightmares, we should instead wake up to an equally alarming scenario that is unfolding before our eyes: We are increasingly, unsuspectingly yet willingly, abdicating our power to make decisions based on our own judgment, including our moral convictions. What we believe is “right” risks becoming no longer a question of ethics but simply what the “correct” result of a mathematical calculation is.

Moser, C., & Lindebaum, D. (2022). What Humans Lose When We Let AI Decide. MIT Sloan Management Review, 63(3), 12-14.

Globally, standards govern and organise the production and exchange of food. This article uses insights from science and technology studies to study the translation of multiple standards in the Ghanaian pineapple industry. The data demonstrate a translation process that is best described as nesting. Nesting is the process through which producers translate multiple standards into a locally contingent network of human and nonhuman actors, which is represented materially by the perfect fruit. For nesting to take place, producers develop intra-organisational collective practices that we call: prioritising standards, enrolling additives, and creating residues. The concept of nesting explains how food producers translate multiple standards, while simultaneously regaining agency. While nesting enables us to speak about what it means to implement the multiple standards that materially embody the consumers’ vision of perfection, it also contributes to the sociology of standards, the literature on standards adoption, and organisation studies.

This introduction to the Thematic Collection on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tracks the evolution of CSR research published in the Journal of Management Studies from 2006 until 2021. Alongside the mainstreaming of CSR within management studies, CSR research in JMS has progressed from a business-centric to a society-centric focus. The business-centric focus centres on the financial implications of CSR on business firms, and advocates CSR to the extent that it leads to improved financial performance or some other competitive advantage for the firm. The society-centric focus asks broader questions about the appropriate role and location of business in society and its political and institutional contexts, and it reflects a wider set of variables of interest beyond firm financial performance. Understanding this evolution is crucial because it helps to elucidate where CSR research is headed and how the role of business in society is conceptualised. Based on these developments, I outline three emergent avenues for future research: the reintegration of governments as important actors shaping CSR, the need to reorient the dependent variables used in CSR research toward tangible social and ecological outcomes, and the importance of CSR research tackling interrelated societal crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

Wickert, C. (2021). Corporate social responsibility research in the Journal of Management Studies: A shift from a business-centric to a society-centric focus. Journal of Management Studies.

 

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