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Responsible investments, stakeholder dialogue and honesty on the long term: A case study on the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Dutch bank and insurance sector

Koch, Annika (2012) Responsible investments, stakeholder dialogue and honesty on the long term: A case study on the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Dutch bank and insurance sector.

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Abstract:Approach Due to the disability to construct an universal definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is suggested to focus on the understanding of specific sectors, periods and countries (Dahlsrud, 2006; Argandona & Von Weltzien-Hoivik, 2009). For this research it was chosen to focus on the role of CSR in the Dutch bank and insurance sector. Interest and relevance of the sector roots in its nature of a service provider, as it cannot have an major influence itself but is said to have an special indirect impact. Three topics of interest are investigated to elaborate the role CSR has in the sector: communication, fit of CSR activities with the organizations and the organizational understanding of CSR. Especially the communication is essential to study as it is said to reveal better insights on the organizational behavior in the field (Ziek, 2009). Method The research question was assessed with a three-part study. To study the characteristics of CSR communication a content analysis of websites from 12 organizations was conducted. In an attached expert review the fit of the CSR activities was deepened. The last study, interviews with 7 persons responsible for CSR from the original sample of organizations, gathered additional information to the former studies with focus on the communication strategies and the organizational understanding of CSR. Results Both the content analysis and interviews showed that the focus within the sector lies on business and community related activities. There is a frequent use of communication characteristics like justifications or communicating about impact and commitment in order to give founded and transparent information about the CSR efforts. The focus of the CSR activities is balanced between fit with core business and fit with other stakeholder demands. The communication mainly has the purpose to inform employees and other stakeholders about the organizational efforts regarding CSR. The Dutch bank and insurance sector understands CSR as providing honest and trustworthy business on the long term view and have a good focus on their stakeholders. Strategies and activities following out of this should be mainly incorporated (services, products, customers) or closely linked (financial education) in the organizational core business. Organizations give sense to their understanding of CSR by translating it into sets of values and organizational models of CSR. Moreover, the organizations tend to reconsider and slightly reform their CSR understanding due to sensemaking processes in mainly situations of uncertainty such as a merger or economic crisis. Conclusion Nowadays CSR plays an important role in the Dutch bank and insurance sector. Mainly it is used as a mean to regain and maintain society‘s trust in the sector and to show that the banks and insurances are doing business in a decent way. In addition the sector wants to be a facilitator for their customers as the organizations give advice and offer products and services which incorporate both sustainable and responsible characteristics. The activities within the sector exceed merely reputation management as CSR is more and more used as a mean to differentiate. Furthermore, studying the moments of sensemaking revealed that CSR is a concept which is dynamic and vulnerable to organizational and external changes. Those findings underline the former theses not to focus on seeking an universal definition of CSR but continue studying the phenomenon in various contexts.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61657
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