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Corporate social responsibility in emerging markets: case studies of Spanish MNCs in Latin America

Belen Lopez (ESIC, Business and Marketing School, Madrid, Spain)
Gaston Fornes (University of Bristol, Bristol, UK AND ESIC Business and Marketing School, Madrid, Spain)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyse corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in emerging markets (EMs) from developed countries-based multinational companies (MNCs).

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on eight case studies with data collected through in-depth interviews with senior managers of the companies representing 85 per cent of the Spanish foreign investments in Latin America.

Findings

The findings tend to indicate that instrumental theories of CSR seem to apply for Western MNCs operating in EMs. CSR initiatives from these companies seem to be guided by instrumental theories, as they use these initiatives as a strategic tool to achieve economic objectives, seek a positive relation between them and their financial performance and use them to strengthen their reputation.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this article resulted from an in-depth analysis of case studies with data collected from a carefully selected theoretical sample with data analysed by following well-established methods like coding, triangulation and pattern matching. This combination was designed to minimise possible concerns in these areas, and as a consequence to strengthen the research design and, therefore, the conclusions of the paper. Measures were taken to minimise possible concerns in this area. The companies were selected for theoretical, not statistical, reasons with the aim to replicate or extend emergent theories, which is one of the main objectives of the research.

Practical implications

Companies are using CSR in EMs as a strategic tool to achieve economic objectives (the main principle behind instrumental theories). MNCs seek a positive relation between CSR initiatives in EMs and their financial performance (also a key principle within instrumental theories). Companies in the sample develop CSR initiatives, including those in EMs, to increase their legitimacy as part of their global reputation rather to deal with host country challenges. Finally, MNCs actively manage stakeholders to strengthen their local reputation as a means to improve financial performance.

Social implications

Instrumental theories of CSR seem to apply for Western MNCs operating in EMs. These findings highlight the need to continue the study of CSR from Western MNCs in Ems, as the vast majority of academic literature relates to the characteristics of social responsibility initiatives in developed economies.

Originality/value

Instrumental theories apply in a global market for MNCs; in this case, Spanish companies operating in more than 30 countries with a global strategy in CSR and similar objectives.

Keywords

Citation

Lopez, B. and Fornes, G. (2015), "Corporate social responsibility in emerging markets: case studies of Spanish MNCs in Latin America", European Business Review, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 214-230. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBR-03-2013-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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