The Institutionalisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A Case Study of British Grocery Retailing

Hempsall, AM (2015) The Institutionalisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A Case Study of British Grocery Retailing. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

[img] PDF - Registered users only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB)


This case study investigates the institutionalisation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the grocery retail industry. The research uses the lens of institutional theory to understand the macro-institutional pressures that influence firms to engage in CSR and how the powerful actors involved, influence their meso and micro institutional environments. Early neo-institutional theories argue that when disparate organisations are structured into a specific field, powerful forces emerge that shape the institutional environment and make them more similar to one another, or ‘isomorphism’.

The review of the relevant literatures reveals two main ambiguities of early neo-institutional theories. Firstly the constraining effects of isomorphism are contested by theorists who observe that institutions do change over time and are not uniformly taken for granted. Secondly, more recent literature found less evidence of isomorphism as defined by early neo-institutionalists but instead a modification process or translation whereby CSR principles and imported practices are adjusted by the organisation to suit the dominant business case logic.

The case study research takes the form of a qualitative content analysis and looks for evidence of coercive, mimetic and normative isomorphic forces at the macro, meso and micro levels of the industry. The results found that coercive isomorphic forces were the most dominant but the existence of governance gaps and the fragmented nature of consumer related issues led to the grocery retailers being very much in control of determining which CSR strategies to deploy. It was also clear from the research that the retailers are using operationally facing or instrumental CSR strategies to support their dominant business case logic. Presentational strategies that are mainly externally facing were deployed as a strategy differentiator and were used to change the norms and values of their various stakeholders. The presence of isomorphic mechanisms was not found to constrain the industry with the exception of those caused by the current economic climate which are forcing the industry to a ‘race to the bottom’.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: Hempsall, Andrew
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 13:44
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 01:32

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View