Title: From CSR rhetoric to real business practice: ethical banking in Scandinavia

Authors: Elisabeth Paulet; Francesc Relano

Addresses: ESCEM Business School, 11, rue de l'Ancienne Comédie – BP 5, 68001 Poitiers Cedex, France ' ESCEM Business School, 11, rue de l'Ancienne Comédie – BP 5, 68001 Poitiers Cedex, France

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to assess whether in the banking sector there is an effective coherence between corporate social responsibility statements frequently made in communication policies and banks' actual practice. This will be illustrated by comparing Scandinavian banks' CSR policies and the structure of their balance sheets. The results show that only the business practice of the so-called ethical banks is fully consistent with their CSR discourse. To conclude, some insights are offered regarding the role that these particular institutions might potentially play as a source of inspiration for the reform of the financial system.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; CSR policies; real accounting practice; Scandinavia; banking industry; green washing; ethical banks; ethics; banking practice; balance sheets; CSR discourse; financial reform.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBGE.2012.051227

International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 2012 Vol.7 No.4, pp.350 - 364

Published online: 28 Dec 2012 *

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