“Buying” Corporate Social Responsibility: Organisational Identity Orientation as a Determinant of Practice Adoption

Journal of Business Ethics 142 (3):497-514 (2017)
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Abstract

In this paper, we explore the empirical phenomenon of large multinational corporations acquiring socially oriented enterprises, such as the Unilever–Ben & Jerry’s, and the L`Oréal-The Body Shop takeovers. When focusing on these cases, we argue that variance in organisational identity orientations, as the dominant logic of managers within the acquiring organisations, determines whether MNCs consider the transaction not only in financial terms, but also decide to adopt “social technology” in the form of CSR-related organisational practices from the acquired unit. We argue that in turn based on a “match” with the organisational identity of the acquired unit, managers will opt to adopt CSR practices more fully or selectively, and in more substantial or symbolic ways. With these propositional arguments we not only aim to contribute to the literature on CSR adoption by MNCs, but we also set out to develop theory on the widespread but so far undocumented phenomenon of MNCs “buying CSR” by acquiring socially oriented enterprises.

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