Corporate social responsibility as a business contribution to sustainable development
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been framed as a business contribution to sustainable development, but there are diverging views on how this may be. In this thesis, the overall research question is: How does CSR contribute to a sustainable development? To shed light on this question, three specific research questions were developed: 1. How is CSR defined? 2. How significant is CSR as business’ contribution to a sustainable development? 3. When does business choose to implement CSR practices? In this thesis, CSR practices are defined as practises that improve the social, economic and environmental impacts of a business beyond regulatory requirements. The research has been carried out in three separate studies, which roughly correspond to the specific research questions. In the three studies, it has been conducted a content analysis of 37 definitions of CSR, a review of CSR practices among 112 Norwegian shipping companies and qualitative research interviews with corporate top management of Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA; a frontrunner of CSR in the shipping industry. The results show that most definitions of CSR incorporate a social, economic, environmental, voluntariness and stakeholder dimension. Further, it is shown that the Norwegian shipping companies studied do implement CSR practices, but to a far lesser degree than mandatory practices. In Wilh. Wilhelmsen, CSR practices are only implemented when management perceive them as valuable to the company. CSR is a well defined concept and by studying how business is practicing CSR, it is revealed that CSR makes a marginal contribution to sustainable development. Thus, as a strategy to have business contribute to sustainable development, CSR should be viewed as limited supplement to regulatory requirements.