From corporate social responsibility awareness to action?

Caroline D. Ditlev‐Simonsen (Research Fellow and Associate Director of the Centre for Corporate Responsibility, BI – Norwegian School of Management, Department of Public Governance, Oslo, Norway)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 3 August 2010



The purpose of this paper is to describe how the term “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is interpreted, introduced and applied in corporations from the point of view of the person in charge of this process, i.e. the translator.


A case study approach is applied. Semi‐structured interviews with those responsible for CSR introduction in three different companies are conducted, based on the knowledge transfer and translation theory (KTT). The content of CSR reports issued by the three companies is also reviewed to describe the CSR introduction process.


The findings suggest that the translator's understanding of the term CSR, as well as his or her position and motivation, impacts the outcome of CSR introduction. Furthermore, the findings reveal that introducing the term CSR into the corporate vocabulary does not necessarily reflect changes in corporate activities.

Research limitations/implications

The cases were selected to reflect differing corporate settings. However, for the purposes of generalization, the findings should be tested on other companies and in other countries.

Practical implications

The study and findings are useful for self‐evaluation and benchmarking by other corporations.

Social implications

The study confirms that the growth in volume and scope of CSR reports does not necessarily reflect the same increase in CSR activities. In these cases, the main effect of CSR introduction reflects increased openness about already ongoing environmental and social activities.


Whereas most attention so far has been given to how institutional pressure leads to CSR activities, the paper reveals the importance of the individual translator's interpretation of institutional CSR pressure and how this subsequently becomes the corporate CSR approach.



Ditlev‐Simonsen, C. (2010), "From corporate social responsibility awareness to action?", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 452-468.

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