The ethical underpinning of differing perceptions of “good” CSR Anniek Maaskant,

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Over the years, supermarkets have gained more and more power withing their supply chains. Many have expressed their concerns about this phenomenon; mainly because many believe supermarkets ignore the relation between corporation and society. In reaction, supermarkets have started initiating Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. But again, discussion about these CSR activities arose; supermarkets present and believe themselves to have ‘good’ CSR, while the critical public believes the total opposite. This concept of ‘good’ relates to ethics, which has led to the following research question: what are the ethical underpinnings of the perceptions on CSR? To answer this research question, a qualitative document analysis has been performed. To do so, both documents about supermarkets by the critical public, and documents by supermarkets themselves were analyzed. By doing so, the researcher was able to draw conclusions about whether the underpinning of the perception of the critical public and the perception of supermarkets were based on either moral equity, contractualism or relativism. The findings of this research are as follows: almost all supermarkets perceive ‘good’ CSR as satisfying consumer demands – relativism – and complying with rules and regulations – contractualism -, and therefore present themselves as upholding these dimensions, while the ethical underpinning of the critical public clearly differs, since most important to them is moral equity, which is described as the willingness to go beyond, because it is the right thing to do.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen