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Corporate social responsibility as differentiation from international competition: A case study of the German book retailing sector
University West, Department of Economics and IT, Division of Business Administration.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this research was to examine how differentiation from international competition can be reached through Corporate Social Responsibility and was conducted in cooperation with the Mayersche Buchhandlung, a German book retailer. This research was realized within the second semester of the Master of Science program in International Business and was written by Nicole Bulawa.

The problem that was addressed within this study is the exposure of the Mayersche Buchhandlung to international competition, such as Amazon. A problem solution was provided through an investigation of how the Mayersche Buchhandlung can improve their CSR practices in terms of a general CSR framework. This was supplemented through recommendations on how this can be communicated to customers taking the country-of-origin effect into account.

Research was conducted in accordance to a qualitative research strategy with focus on a single case study which facilitated the collection of in-depth information. Data was collected by means of secondary and primary data. More specifically, primary data were gathered through semi-structured interviews and website content which were analysed through qualitative content analysis. Within the first research question an examination of the integration of CSR within the company's overall strategy took place as well as an investigation of CSR practices through a CSR framework. In accordance to research question two CSR communication in terms of general and online CSR communication was investigated. This took place in correspondence to the country-of-origin effect of Germany.

Data has been collected with reference to the integration of CSR within the company's overall strategy which showed that the absence of a guiding CSR strategy for CSR practices. Furthermore, it also became evident that the company followed extensive CSR efforts with regards to all five CSR framework areas. Nevertheless, improvements covered aspects, such as certifications/awards of external parties, as it was a generally lacking aspect within the company. Furthermore, evidence showed that the company placed increasing focus on donations and sponsorship of community projects which were related to the company's core business. In accordance to this study this emphasis could be improved through increased emphasis in this area.

Evidence with regards to general and online CSR communication showed similar patterns in which it became apparent that focus should be placed on differentiation as a communication objective. Furthermore, based on the data intensified usage of an emotional message appeal was suggested within the company's CSR communication, general and online, because of the social character that CSR inherits. Lastly, increased storytelling with regards to myths and origins and hero stories within CSR communication messages was proposed as it communicates sympathy and a valuing of employees by the company. Lastly, the country-of-origin effect of Germany on CSR communication showed that social issues with different importance rankings in Germany have been addressed. Nevertheless, no evidence could be found for the country-of-origin effect of Germany on CSR communication as addressed social issues were related to the company's profession and industry and not the country the company is located in.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 80 p.
Keyword [en]
Corporate social responsibility
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-7912Local ID: EXD951OAI: diva2:846531
Subject / course
Business administration
Educational program
International Business
Available from: 2015-08-17 Created: 2015-08-17 Last updated: 2015-08-17Bibliographically approved

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