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Embedding CSR as a learning and knowledge creating process: the case for SMEs in Norway

Heidi von Weltzien Hoivik (BI Norwegian School of Business, Oslo, Norway)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




This case study aims to single out two companies in Norway belonging to the NCE Subsea cluster in the Bergen region, which are in the process of developing internationalization strategies. Most of the companies in the Subsea cluster are small to medium‐sized companies. Until recently they have not seen or felt the need to make their own understanding or actions regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) explicit, even though knowledge about what CSR entails – now often shortened to CR or even SR (Social Responsibility) – may very well already exist in the mindset of managers and employees. However, to respond to potential international customers' demands – often coming from the larger oil companies – SMEs in the Subsea sector are seeking now a way to resolve this by starting a process within their own organizations, using the new process standard ISO 26000. For this reason, the central element of this study focuses on describing such internal processes, which embed CSR knowledge in the respective companies as part of an organizational learning process.


The paper adopted a case study method known as Appreciative Inquiry (AI).


The findings show that the initial phases of such processes are extremely important. It is crucial to view the embedding process of CSR/CR as part of a strategic implementation process, which is capable of interlinking and interlocking business goals with human, social and environmental objectives in order to foster a financially and socially responsible business.


The two cases provide insights into how ISO 26000 can be adapted by SMEs in order to embed a deeper understanding of CSR into the organization, using a participatory dialogue process. The cases can serve as a model for other SMEs who want to live up to the expectations of their main stakeholders, using a process where strategy, business innovation, personal development and continuous learning are interlocked with understanding social responsibility.



von Weltzien Hoivik, H. (2011), "Embedding CSR as a learning and knowledge creating process: the case for SMEs in Norway", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 No. 10, pp. 1067-1084.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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