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Diffusion of sustainability and CSR discourse in hospitality industry: Dynamics of local context

Bengi Ertuna (Bogazici University, Department of Tourism Administration, Istanbul, Turkey)
Mine Karatas-Ozkan (Southampton Business School, Southampton, UK)
Sibel Yamak (University of Wolverhampton Business School, Wolverhampton, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 18 June 2019

Issue publication date: 4 September 2019




The authors’ focus is on the way in which sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourses and practices emerge in the collaboration of multinational companies (MNCs) with the local hotels in developing country contexts. This paper aims to identify the prevailing institutional orders and logics that bring about CSR and sustainability discourse in tourism industry in Turkey. It also investigates how and to what extent the CSR and sustainability practices align with the local institutional logics and necessities.


Empirical evidence is generated through case studies covering Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (Hilton), its Turkish subsidiary and a local hotel chain to ensure data triangulation. Primary data were collected through interviews with the executives of the selected case hotels, which was supported by extensive secondary data.


Some components of CSR and sustainability logics developed in the headquarters diffuse into local affiliate hotel, not all. Local affiliate hotels seek to acquire local legitimacy in their host environment, despite a standard format imposed by their headquarters. Local necessities and priorities translate themselves into such initiatives in a very limited way in the affiliates of the Hilton where there is mostly a top-down approach. Similar approach has also been observed in the case of the local hotel which is part of a family business group. Family’s values and family business headquarter shape the CSR and sustainability strategy and the logics reflecting the local component.

Research limitations/implications

This paper addresses a theoretical and empirical gap by demonstrating the role of MNCs in the diffusion of sustainability and CSR practices, as acknowledged by Forcadell and Aracil (2017). The authors contribute to the critical writings about the positive impact of CSR and sustainability in the context of the MNCs and their subsidiaries, which is not substantiated due to limited empirical evidence. In addition to these contributions to the CSR and sustainability literatures in tourism and hospitality domains, the authors add to the institutional theory by demonstrating the link between institutional orders and institutional logics. They also show the multiplicity of logics that emanate from the differences of logics developed in the headquarters (centrally imposed) and local affiliate organizations (context-specific) and contribute to theory by highlighting tensions.

Practical implications

This study appeals to management teams and executives of hotels dealing with these issues of tailoring of CSR practices to local necessities. The authors do not only raise awareness of this consciousness but also demonstrate practical application of some of these strategies and prioritization by detecting market specificities and distinctive societal needs. Hotel managers should resist against the headquarter- or family business-driven uniform approach to CSR and sustainability and reflect on corporate policies through checking isomorphic tendencies. This entails being cognizant of local conditions and necessities and respond to them in a flexible and accommodating way. It involves engaging with a full spectrum of stakeholders, including the leadership in headquarters as well as local organizations (e.g. NGOs, suppliers, etc.) and other institutional forces (e.g. state) to align their sustainability and CSR practices with the locally dominant logics. Managers should be aware of certain logics governing CSR and sustainability practices; some of these logics might be constraining critical thinking and innovative practices.

Social implications

Managers should be proactive in interpreting different institutional logics and process them through critical reflection and boundary spanning and mapping of new opportunities. Moreover, MNC hotel executives should be aware of the limitations of a blanket approach toward CSR and sustainability and increase their sensitivity toward local conditions.


Through this study, the authors are able to add further value to the critical writings about the positive contribution of CSR and sustainability in the context of the MNCs and their subsidiaries, which is not substantiated due to limited empirical evidence.



The authors thank the Guest Editor Prof. Babak Taheri and three anonymous referees for their insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The authors also thank Gulden Besler Sargin for her assistance in data collection; and Smart Concept Fund and the George Washington University – Bogazici University Research Visit Fund for their support.


Ertuna, B., Karatas-Ozkan, M. and Yamak, S. (2019), "Diffusion of sustainability and CSR discourse in hospitality industry: Dynamics of local context", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 2564-2581.



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