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A Finnish Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility
Unformatted Document Text:  13 management was reported to build reputation and to advance business. Social risk management was found to be the most difficult because of its imaginary nature. One respondent illustrated it as a kind of “do-goodery”. Environmental risk management was generally found to be satisfactory. All the respondents stated that long-term profitability is achievable only by responsible activities in domestic as well as in global environments. According to one informant: “Its target is simply to improve business.” On the other hand it was assumed that profitable companies must take responsibility into account. One interviewee stated that if a company is not profitable it will scarcely go beyond the legislation, for instance in case of environmental auditable standards. It was also stated that when customers use the most modern technology it often means the same as sustainability. Thus, the influence of responsibility is twofold. One line of argument presented above is quite close to the dimension of convincing the stakeholders of good corporate citizenship, an aim that needs continuing stakeholder dialogue. The importance of the latter was largely agreed on by the interviewees. Some companies already have practices and experiences, some have just started them. The dilemma surrounding stakeholder dialogue had been deeply reflected on. Generally it was found difficult and challenging to work such dialogues out globally and at the same time locally, i.e. to connect global and local challenges and needs and to apply the principles governing them in very different societies. On one hand companies found it important to listen to their stakeholders, and on the other hand they considered the extent to which they ought to take their expectations into account confusing. Dialogue was defined as meeting people and to maintaining face-to-face communication, a process that needs significant resources. One interviewee stressed that dialogue is not only sending brochures or reports. Another interviewee described their experiences in the following way: “Look, I’ll tell you how we managed our dialogue in South America. We invited specialists in every CSR area, and it was amazing that 26 of 27 said “yes”. We had people from universities, associations and others. We mixed them into teams where we had our own representatives in order to make them understand what it is. First we brain stormed in order to make lists of important issues… We got perhaps 20 issues, after that we asked them to define their priorities and at last to reflect on best practices, targets and concrete acts … Perhaps the main point was that the stakeholders as well as we learn.” The following dimensions of the table: differentiation/competitive advantage, reputation/brand/image management represent phenomena quite close to each other. They refer to the position a company is expected to have in the eyes of its customers and other stakeholders. Some respondents labelled it intangible asset or capital, meaning a significant surplus value for the company. One respondent argued that a good reputation protects the brand when the company’s responses to stakeholders’ concerns and reports are in line with its own interests and external expectations. From another point of view reputation risk management includes activities designed to minimise potential risks aimed at the company and its brand. To cite one respondent, a kind of ambition scale might consist of three levels, the lowest being the compliance with the law, next level being willingness to exceed the law and the highest one representing the best level and supplying “products 100% free of reputation risks”. This could mean competitive advantage through the differentiation from competitors. Reputation and image were a criterion interviewees did not agree on but reflection on this issue indicated theoretical replication. Two of the interviewees highly disagreed with the statement that reputation has something to do with the success of the company or has an essential role in corporate social responsibility, and showed suspiscion. It was considered to have something in common with advertising or being otherwise a peripheral issue: as one interviewee said: “It is not a question of priority, we do not want to put effort into the people on the street, it is sufficient that our customers know us”, or another: “I am not a marketing man, a consultant has talked much about it, but I am not very

Authors: Juholin, Elisa.
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management was reported to build reputation and to advance business. Social risk management was found to be the
most difficult because of its imaginary nature. One respondent illustrated it as a kind of “do-goodery”.
Environmental risk management was generally found to be satisfactory. All the respondents stated that long-term
profitability is achievable only by responsible activities in domestic as well as in global environments. According to one
informant: “Its target is simply to improve business.” On the other hand it was assumed that profitable companies must
take responsibility into account. One interviewee stated that if a company is not profitable it will scarcely go beyond the
legislation, for instance in case of environmental auditable standards. It was also stated that when customers use the
most modern technology it often means the same as sustainability. Thus, the influence of responsibility is twofold.
One line of argument presented above is quite close to the dimension of convincing the stakeholders of good
corporate citizenship, an aim that needs continuing stakeholder dialogue. The importance of the latter was largely
agreed on by the interviewees. Some companies already have practices and experiences, some have just started them.
The dilemma surrounding stakeholder dialogue had been deeply reflected on. Generally it was found difficult and
challenging to work such dialogues out globally and at the same time locally, i.e. to connect global and local challenges
and needs and to apply the principles governing them in very different societies. On one hand companies found it
important to listen to their stakeholders, and on the other hand they considered the extent to which they ought to take
their expectations into account confusing. Dialogue was defined as meeting people and to maintaining face-to-face
communication, a process that needs significant resources. One interviewee stressed that dialogue is not only sending
brochures or reports. Another interviewee described their experiences in the following way:
“Look, I’ll tell you how we managed our dialogue in South America. We invited specialists in every CSR area, and
it was amazing that 26 of 27 said “yes”. We had people from universities, associations and others. We mixed them
into teams where we had our own representatives in order to make them understand what it is. First we brain
stormed in order to make lists of important issues… We got perhaps 20 issues, after that we asked them to define
their priorities and at last to reflect on best practices, targets and concrete acts … Perhaps the main point was that
the stakeholders as well as we learn.”
The following dimensions of the table: differentiation/competitive advantage, reputation/brand/image management
represent phenomena quite close to each other. They refer to the position a company is expected to have in the eyes of
its customers and other stakeholders. Some respondents labelled it intangible asset or capital, meaning a significant
surplus value for the company. One respondent argued that a good reputation protects the brand when the company’s
responses to stakeholders’ concerns and reports are in line with its own interests and external expectations. From
another point of view reputation risk management includes activities designed to minimise potential risks aimed at the
company and its brand. To cite one respondent, a kind of ambition scale might consist of three levels, the lowest being
the compliance with the law, next level being willingness to exceed the law and the highest one representing the best
level and supplying “products 100% free of reputation risks”. This could mean competitive advantage through the
differentiation from competitors.
Reputation and image were a criterion interviewees did not agree on but reflection on this issue indicated theoretical
replication. Two of the interviewees highly disagreed with the statement that reputation has something to do with the
success of the company or has an essential role in corporate social responsibility, and showed suspiscion. It was
considered to have something in common with advertising or being otherwise a peripheral issue: as one interviewee
said: “It is not a question of priority, we do not want to put effort into the people on the street, it is sufficient that our
customers know us”, or another: “I am not a marketing man, a consultant has talked much about it, but I am not very


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