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Axel Springer's sustainability entrepreneurialism in Russian wood supply: just a CSR fad or real change in the makings?

Nils Peters (University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)

Publication date: 1 July 2011


Subject area

Entrepreneurship, Corporate sustainability, CSR, Supply chain.

Study level/applicability

Master's courses: Entrepreneurship, Strategic management.

Case overview

In 2002, potential risks deriving from emerging normative demands in the CSR debate prompted Axel Springer (AS) to rethink their supply chain strategy for Russian wood. Being one of the first movers in CSR in the publishing business, AS realized that current practices could spark future public discussion that might put pressure on AS, a key player in these supply chains. In early 2002, AS and one of their main suppliers, Stora Enso, started a joint initiative to redesign the supply chain processes in two of the major Russian logging regions to improve their social and ecological performance. Sometime later, other major players in the publishing sector as well as critical reviewers from several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were invited to participate in the design of the new voluntary sustainability initiative called “Tikhvin Chalna project”, the second phase of which was accomplished by the end of 2006.

Expected learning outcomes

  1. Learn that organizations (specifically high-brand owners) are responsible for practices within their entire supply chains (social as well as environmental performance).

  2. Explore proactive corporate sustainability, CSR strategies are market but also institutional driven; Strategizing involves forming and transforming the rules, norms and standard models of customers as well as institutions such as NGOs or governmental bodies. Whether the initiator of such strategy is successful in increasing or manipulating demands is dependent on its resources and capabilities as well as on its network position. The case supports students in understanding resources being used to successfully transform or create institutional arrangements.

  3. Discover that the value of a business' relationships and its network position.

Supplementary materials

Teaching note, Video files



Peters, N. (2011), "Axel Springer's sustainability entrepreneurialism in Russian wood supply: just a CSR fad or real change in the makings?", , Vol. 1 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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