Walking the Talk - Can / will TNC's implement CSR also in their subsidiaries in developing countries ?
Frans A.B. Verspeek, Peter Koppert and Linda Bakker, IVAM Research and Consultancy on Sustainability, Netherlands
TransNational Corporations (TNC’s) are making statements about corporate sustainability in all their activities worldwide. But do they ‘walk their talk”? And more specifically, are they implementing these corporate strategies not only properly in their home base and developed world but also in their subsidiaries in developing countries and does it thereby perhaps stimulate sustainable development also in DC’s or will it be more a ‘race to the bottom’?

Via field investigations case studies have been conducted in 4 Dutch multinationals (Akzo-Nobel, DSM, Shell and Heineken) having also sites in China. A comparison is made between a Dutch and a Chinese subsidiary about their strategy, practises and performance on a number of sustainability-issues. Results show that the performance of the same company in the two countries is different, regarding the environmental performance and especially the social performance (working conditions). These differences are, amongst others, caused by different influences/drivers the subsidiaries receive. They can be influenced by the company’s headquarters, but also local conditions (e.g. governmental requirements, market related influences or community (civil society) pressure).

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