CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism, according to Oxford Academic.

A new research into firms’ symbolic and substantive CSR practices has shed light on differing expectations of the role of business in society.

The assumption that corporations say one thing and do another when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not far from the truth, but just how much they follow through on their promises depends on cultural interpretations of the principles of liberal economics and the perceived role and strength of the government, says Thomas Roulet, Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

In a paper for the Journal of Business Ethics, Thomas Roulet and his co-author, Samuel Touboul, IPAG Business School, explored the ambiguities surrounding firms’ commitments to social and environmental initiatives. They discovered that in countries where people believed strongly in the virtues of competition, firms were more likely to practise “greenwashing” – that is, to make a lot of noise about their CSR, but to do very little. In countries where liberalism was interpreted as predominantly about individual responsibility, firms were more likely to focus on concrete actions.
Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers calculated average country-level beliefs when it came to two central tenets of economic liberalism: a belief in the virtues of competition and a belief in the importance of individual responsibility. They found that developed market economies such as Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Canada tended to have higher cultural beliefs in favour of individual responsibility. While those countries also score highly in terms of cultural beliefs in favour of competition, it appears that countries with higher scores on this variable are fast developing countries such as India, China, and Morocco.

Mapping these country-level beliefs against the CSR actions of firms in those countries confirmed that firms are more likely to greenwash when populations’ beliefs in the virtue of competition are predominant, and when their beliefs in individual responsibility are less prominent. Therefore, in a country like Morocco, where beliefs in the virtue of individual responsibility are low, but in the virtue of competition are high, firms are more likely to greenwash. Conversely, in a country like France, where the population believes in the virtue of individual responsibility but prefers an absence of competition, firms are less likely to greenwash as they tend to implement socially and environmentally responsible actions without specifically signalling those actions.

The question is where do countries like Nigeria fall into?

Advertisements
Standard

One thought on “Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism, according to Oxford Academic.

  1. John Egbokhan says:

    The answer to the writer’s question on which divide do countries like Nigeria fall into in relation to the concept of Green washing and its attendant Corporate Social Responsibility is not farfetched for Nigerians who are culturally inclined and love the razzmataz and noise that corporations make of their CSR roles. Corporations are less likely to perform their CSR roles because individual responsibility is one virtue missing in Nigerians. And our government sadly and regrettably too, lacks the willpower to compel corporations to perform their CSR roles. This makes green washing prevalent in Nigeria

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s