Corporate social responsibility and image in organizations: for the insiders or the outsiders?

Merita Mattila (Senior Lecturer in the School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to provide new aspects to corporate social responsibility (CSR) research, especially in a Finnish context. The aim is to compare personnel's perceptions in three case companies (a forest company, a cooperative bank and a retail cooperative) of how the contexts and aims of practicing CSR are understood among the employees. CSR is often referred to good image and reputation outside the companies. Is it only for the outsiders or also for the insiders, the employees? The theoretical frame consists of Carroll's CSR model, including four dimensions: economic – be profitable; legal – obey the law; ethical – do what is right and fair and avoid harm; and philanthropic (discretional) – be a good corporate citizen.


In Finnish companies CSR is taken into account quite well. Although, in this paper the personnel's perceptions are studied further by content analysis. The interview data consist of three different levels: the top management, the middle management and the employee level. This will give a wider perspective to the theme.


The paper provides information about each company, comparing the personnel's perceptions in different hierarchical levels. The organizational form is also an important factor in CSR, since two of the case companies are cooperative (the bank and the market) and the forest company is an exchange‐listed company. This brings new interesting aspects to the context of CSR.

Research limitations/implications

The research context is Finnish, so there might be limitations when applying the results to very dissimilar countries to Finland.

Practical implications

The paper is a useful source of information about CSR “inside” the companies: getting the personnel perspective. Too often CSR is aimed only towards the “outsider” stakeholders.


This paper brings more information about CSR seen by the personnel: very often CSR is studied through stakeholders/owners/customers, etc., but this paper gives the insider picture about CSR in Finnish companies.



Mattila, M. (2009), "Corporate social responsibility and image in organizations: for the insiders or the outsiders?", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 540-549.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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