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Legitimation Strategies in the reporting of Negative CSR Aspects
Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Business Administration and Management.
Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Business Administration and Management.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The survival of organizations is dependent upon their legitimacy since legitimacy provides them with access to valuable resources. Organizations do not possess legitimacy, but rather it is ascribed to them by the society they are in when their actions meet societal expectations. Fulfillment of these societal expectations requires the moral and practical obligations of organizations which we call Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To show their CSR performance, organizations have increasingly adopted the practice of CSR reporting. In CSR reporting, organizations are expected by their stakeholders to disclose both positive and negative aspects. Although disclosing negative aspects can pose a threat to organization’s legitimacy, a third party reporting them may cause more severe damages to the legitimacy of the organization. Therefore, organizations are motivated to legitimize their negative aspects by using legitimation strategies.

Using the typology of Coombs and Holladay (1996), in combination with the legitimation strategies by Hahn and Lülfs (2014) as our frameworks, and the non-financial reports of the top ten German chemical companies as our illustrative cases, we investigate and interpret the choice of legitimation strategies used by organizations to report different types of negative aspects in CSR reports. Our findings show that there is a clear pattern in the use of corrective action as a legitimation strategy for all types of negative aspects. Furthermore, we identified instances, where a new type of legitimation strategy, which we called shifting blame legitimation strategy was used. We interpreted our findings using analytical reasoning and theoretical framework such as the concept of symbolic and substantive approach to interpret our findings. Based on the findings, we concluded that the dominant pattern identified falls under the substantive approach, theoretically known for helping companies retain their legitimacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Legitimacy, negative aspects, Corporate Social Responsibility, sustainability, non-financial reporting, voluntary disclosure, legitimation strategies, symbolic approach, substantive approach
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-25099OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-25099DiVA: diva2:1105652
Available from: 2017-06-05 Created: 2017-06-05

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • chicago-author-date
  • chicago-note-bibliography
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf