Corporate Social Responsibility: A Study of Strategic Management and Performance in Swedish Firms

  • Lars E. Isaksson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Firms today engage in CSR with a strategic intent as it is considered to be a long-term investment that leads to improved competitive advantages, reputation and customer relations. It is further considered to lead to improved financial and non-financial performance. Hence, CSR is considered to be a part of the strategic management field. This research investigated publicly traded multi-national enterprises (MNE’s) on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. This since Sweden is among the CSR world leading nations and has top rankings in e.g. innovation, globalization and responsible competitiveness. The focus of this research was on the operationalization of firm specific external and internal strategic orientation. We investigated these orientations via the lens of the Market Orientation theory by using qualitative and quantitative research. We found that External Orientation (the level of customer- and market orientation), Internal Orientation (the degree of strategic orientation, strategic CSR Intentions, presence of industrial standards, operative CSR management and the timing and design of CSR communication), and Firm Performance displayed significant positive relationships with our CSR measure (comparative Index). We triangulated firm performance (primary and secondary data) and found it to be significant. We further found predictive support that enables practitioners and academics to assess how their firm could structure (how to specifically ‘set-up’) their external- and internal orientation to increase their level of CSR. In turn it can improve firm level reputation, competitive advantage and become more appealing to investors interested in firms’ with an above average CSR profile. In summary, this research aid practitioner operationalization of CSR in order to gain from it; investors and market analysts’ ability to assess firm level CSR efforts; and academics understanding of how firm level characteristics can contribute to higher levels of CSR.
Date of Award9 Feb 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTimothy Kiessling (Supervisor)

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