This article examines the relationship between national varieties of capitalism and firm engagement with the norms and best practices promoted within the global organisational field for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Using a content analysis of the CSR reports of US and European firms, we show that firms from the coordinated market economies (CME) of Europe engage more substantively with labour and human rights than their US counterparts that operate in a liberal market economy (LME). The environmental commitments of firms in both regions, however, are more developed than practices related to these social issues. These findings support the view that CSR is more developed in CMEs than LMEs, but limit this support to social CSR issues. We posit that firms' higher levels of engagement with environmental CSR likely reflect the extent to which environmental norms have become embedded in global markets rather than how CSR is promoted by national capitalist systems.
Bibliographical noteThis paper is the outcome of a workshop ‘The Causes and Consequences of Private Governance: The Changing Roles of State and Private Actors’ held on 6/7 November 2014 at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) and funded by the COST Action IS1309 ‘Innovations in Climate Governance: Sources, Patterns and Effects’ (INOGOV), MZES, and the Lorenz von Stein Foundation. The research on which the paper is based was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council in the United Kingdom (RES-062-23-3258). In addition to the participants of the Mannheim workshop, we would like to thank Jale Tosun, Sebastian Koos, Jennifer Shore, Lukas Giessen, Sarah Burns, Tim Werner, Karen Wright and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this article. The remaining faults are all our own.
- Content analysis
- Corporate social responsibility
- Private governance
- Varieties of capitalism