A Qualitative Case Study to Explore the Relationship Between Stakeholder Engagement and CSR Target Setting A case study of Canon Europa N.V.
Mohammad Aiyoob, M.S.A.
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In this thesis the relationship between level of stakeholder engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) target setting practices was explored. In that respect, the main question concerned by this thesis is as below: How do different levels of stakeholder engagement influence CSR target setting practices of corporations? To answer this question the thesis developed a framework based on Arnestein ladder of stakeholder participation and Green’s model of stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement was evaluated on the basis of three engagement levels (informative, consultative and decisional) that was proposed by Green et al. (2003). Target setting for sustainability practices were evaluated in regard to three practices: coverage of issues, quality of targets and defining ambitions for targets. The thesis empirically investigated its research question in four companies from the electronics sector, namely Canon, Philips, Siemens and Samsung. These company were selected on the basis of three main criteria: 1) setting environmental targets, 2) engaging with the stakeholders in different levels; and 3) disclosing information about their target setting and stakeholder engagement practices. The results indicate the following: Concerning the level of stakeholder engagement across the companies under study the thesis found that stakeholder engagement in the companies occurs in a continuous and relative form. This means that it is not practical to distinguish companies into three distinctive engagement levels according to Green’s model. Concerning target setting the thesis found the following: The companies are generally put the main focus on the climate change issues, particularly CO2 reduction. Issues such as water efficiency and biodiversity receives the least attention from the companies to be subjected to target setting. Additionally, in term of quality, the targets that were developed for CO2 reduction are of the highest quality in terms specificity of content, time, measurability, approach and achievability. The results also indicates that companies employ two approaches in defining their targets’ ambition. One is to set their approach based on the societal needs and requirements, another approach of setting ambition is based on following companies’ regular and yearly improvement pace. Finally, regarding the relationship between stakeholder engagement and CSR target setting. The thesis found that there is no significant evidence that companies with higher level of stakeholder engagement cover more issues for target setting. Additionally, the findings also doesn’t indicate that different levels of stakeholder engagement results in different target quality. However, the targets ambition seems to be the only aspect of target setting practices that is influenced by level of stakeholder engagement. The result show that companies with high level of stakeholder set the most ambitious targets, while the company with lowest level of engagement set the modest targets. This trend could be explained by that fact the targets with higher level are subjected to higher scrutiny and attract more demand for taking bigger steps towards sustainable development .