Corporate Social Responsibility in Variegated Political Environments: A Comparative Study of CSR Disclosure between China and Sweden
Abstract: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a widely publicised corporate practice that has become widespread across the globe in the context of globalisation. Still, past research has found considerable variation in the understanding and practice of CSR among companies in different national contexts. China and Sweden, two countries with very different political and economic environments, have been cooperating on CSR promotion since 2007, as unanimously advocated by the United Nations. However, there are still significant differences in the understanding and practice of CSR between the two countries’ companies. I conduct a comparative study of CSR disclosure by thirty listed companies in China and Sweden from the perspective of institutional theory. Through a thematic analysis of the content of CSR reports from both countries and analyses of conditions of symbolic compliance and standard references, two CSR ideal types, authoritarian-state-oriented and democratic-global-oriented, are summarised. This study complements existing institutionalist research that has overemphasised the analysis of national market economies from a comparative capitalist approach by focusing on the impact of national political-institutional contexts on firms’ understanding and practice of CSR.
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