Title: Strategic corporate social responsibility: the struggle for legitimacy and reputation

Authors: Irene Pollach

Addresses: Department of Business Communication, Aarhus University, Jens Chr Skous Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Abstract: Companies face the pressure to differentiate themselves from other companies, while simultaneously facing the pressure to work by the same standards as other companies in order to maintain their legitimacy. Firms that want to gain a differentiation advantage through their CSR activities need to match the practices of other firms, innovate and communicate their own CSR practices, and protect their CSR achievements from mimicry by other firms. An interview study among CSR directors of large industrial companies with high CSR ambitions was conducted in order to shed light on how CSR directors navigate this cycle of CSR innovation, CSR communication, and CSR mimicry. The findings suggest that companies should seek to foster relationship building within the organisation in order to speed up the execution of CSR ideas, build coopetitive networks for knowledge sharing with other companies, critically examine the organisation's culture, and optimise the effectiveness of CSR communication.

Keywords: strategic CSR; corporate social responsibility; reputation; legitimacy; institutional theory; resource-based view; RBV; differentiation; CSR communication; CSR mimicry; knowledge sharing; governance; ethics; strategy; competition; coopetitive networks; coopetition; organisational culture.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBGE.2015.068685

International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 2015 Vol.10 No.1, pp.57 - 75

Received: 14 May 2014
Accepted: 19 Dec 2014

Published online: 02 Apr 2015 *

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