Responsible companies or moral products?: The constitution of moral agency in/between organisations
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The main focus in this work is on how moral agency is constituted, with particular emphasis oncommercial organisations and their engagement in moral programs such as Corporate SocialResponsibility (CSR) or sustainable consumption and production. The thesis consists of four articles andan overview article where these topics are analysed and discussed by following the introduction of socalledmoral products in the Norwegian market.In the first article, the concept of moral landscapes is applied on a concrete empirical case focussing onthe efforts of a Norwegian retail chain to introduce organic products as a part of their CSR commitment.The second article looks into three attempts to introduce morally charged products to the Norwegianmarket through the lens of actor-network theory (ANT). Commercial activity is here seen as an ongoingconfiguration practice in which economic actors try to stabilise their relations to consumers, mobilisingboth social and technological resources. The third article addresses the configuration of organic milk inthe Norwegian market and how its status and qualities have been negotiated in the period following itsintroduction. The focus is to understand how organic products as markers of sustainability find theirway into the market and to explore the process of constituting organic milk as a moral object. Finally,the fourth article explores strategic dilemmas involved when corporate actors engage in moral programs,with particular emphasis on the role of products as carriers of moral programs and how thisphenomenon challenges established models of (human) agency. These questions are approachedthrough an examination of how a Norwegian office-chair producer has developed and distributed theirergonomic philosophy.It is concluded that the current approach to moral agency provide a constructive perspective on howresponsibility is negotiated in actor networks that may cross the borders between organisations andsectors in society. By recognising the role of so-called moral products, managers can better relate theirCSR initiatives to other practice areas in the organisation that also influence their responsibility towardsthe surroundings. The framework put forward here may also be useful in order to understand how theintroduction of new products influence what is already going on in the marketplace. The reception ofinnovations with a better sustainability performance may thus depend upon resources that are alreadyengaged in established/conventional product systems. The distinction between information-basedstrategies and agency delegated to products and material infrastructure is also relevant in the moregeneral debate on how to make our consumption and production systems more sustainable.