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Title: Walking the walk? : a multi-level comparison of CSR practices between France and the UK
Author: Leguy, Laure-Emmanuelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 6788
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This study is an account of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) variations in firm level practices between two countries, France and the UK. This comparison is theoretically located in the comparative capitalism framework where the sampled countries differ substantially. This study confirms the existence of differences in CSR practices between these two countries and qualifies the nature and extent of these variations. UK companies appear more socially responsible than French companies, but the genuine character of this involvement is questioned. Besides, this study demonstrates how these differences are the results of a combined (but complex) effect of varieties of capitalism and firm level characteristics. The study of CSR involvement and antecedents is worth pursuing because the question of CSR and the role of companies are still debated. Should companies be only interested in maximising their profits for the sake of their shareholders following Friedman’s (1970) admonition? Or should they be more involved in the community, taking a greater part in solving societal problems? How far should they go in fighting global warming? In practice, companies have been held responsible for issues traditionally handled by the state, but not all of them engage in CSR (Gjølberg, 2009b; Kinderman, 2009). There is an increasing amount of companies engaging in CSR reporting and relying on sustainability jargon: sustainable, ethical, ethically sourced, environmentally friendly to name only a few. And yet, the last decade, for instance, has witnessed a global financial crisis, repeated business scandals (banking, tax, labour conditions, pays), rising inequalities in developed and developing countries, and worsened human-made global warming. So how are companies and national states behaving? This study contributes to the existing literature at several levels. It is a unique cross-country analysis of CSR antecedents and CSR practices between France and the UK. It is based on a quantitative multi-level analysis of its antecedents combining the impact of national institutions, companies’ characteristics and HR managers’ perceptions. The comparative CSR literature tends to study CSR antecedents one level at a time. This study fills in this gap by providing a global picture of CSR antecedents, rooted in two main strands of literature: the comparative capitalism literature, and the comparative CSR literature. The study offers insights on the separate and combined impact of varieties of capitalism and company characteristics on the nature of CSR practices. France and the UK are particularly interesting cases for this study since they present significant differences in their type of capitalism. The UK is traditionally characterised as a Liberal Market Economy. France provides a comparison case as it is a country which is difficult to categorise, and does not easily fall into the traditional liberal or coordinated market categories. Using a self-administered questionnaire, this study collected data from 162 respondents (95 French and 67 UK). This study shows variations in CSR maturity between France and the UK, with UK companies showing a greater involvement in all aspect of CSR. Importantly, CSR should not be treated as a homogeneous concept rather it encompasses four components: compulsory CSR, customers, suppliers and philanthropy, and the environment. The study demonstrates that each component does not have the same antecedents. The variety of capitalism plays a role when it comes to the general level of CSR and its compulsory aspect, whereas the economic situation of the companies plays a crucial part in the other components. This study presents a novel finding regarding HR managers’ perception of CSR outcomes and rationale. While demonstrating the positive role of HR managers’ perceptions on CSR practices, French and UK managers exhibit a contradictory picture of CSR. The former believes in the benefits of CSR in terms of improving the bottom line. UK HR managers are not convinced that CSR is beneficial, but more importantly they trust their managers to engage in it for ethical reasons. Finally, this study advances theory explaining the differences in cross-country managers perceptions of CSR relying on the theory of relative deprivation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor