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A reluctant stakeholder? On the perception of corporate social responsibility among European trade unions

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Seen from a national business system perspective, the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerges as a specifically US-American response to challenges regarding the corporate place in society. With the spread of American capitalism, however, CSR is bound to come into contact – and conflict – with other approaches to the role of business in society that have been shaped by different national cultures. Within Europe, one such area of potential conflict concerns the role of organised labour in representing employee interests. Studying the perceptions held by European trade unions on stakeholding, as one of the important concepts in the CSR discourse, does indeed reveal a considerable degree of union scepticism of CSR and its terminology. There is, however, also embryonic evidence of at least some unions attempting to link the CSR discourse to traditional union goals. Furthermore, national differences in union responses to CSR are beginning to emerge, which may, in turn, further shape the evolution of national business systems in Europe.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8608.2008.00528.x

Affiliations: Lecturer in European and International Business Policy, School of Management, Royal Holloway College, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK.

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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