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Corporate Social Responsibility in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany: Theory and Forerunners
Arno Mathis, University of Twente, Netherlands
The results in this paper should help connect theoretical concepts with CSR practices in the current business world by presenting the findings of a survey sent to businesses in the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Business perceptions of CSR strongly relate to environmental management and have a longer history than one might expect. External factors, such as legal requirements, general external pressure, and media coverage and campaigning have triggered changes in the business world in favor of CSR, but when CSR policies and schemes are initially under discussion, internal forces, such as the board of directors and the middle management, take over the process. Furthermore, the results of the questionnaire show that external forces, such as government, NGOs, and communities, do not drive CSR development.

Results between the countries differ in some respects. British and Dutch companies are more likely to start CSR because of external factors, while German companies find internal factors more crucial. However, all countries have the same driving forces behind CSR. In all three countries, the board of directors and the middle management drive CSR, with external forces playing a minor role. All these forces come from within corporations; hence one can argue that the driving forces behind CSR are internal and top down.

The key concepts of stakeholder management and triple-bottom line reporting connected to CSR are not implemented as one might expect. When it comes to CSR's impact on a company's core business, the results reveal that companies find it difficult to measure CSR activities in their day-to-day functioning. This finding fuels the debate on whether current CSR policies and practices genuinely change the way a corporation functions. However, one should remember that CSR is in constant development and flux.

 
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