Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 2009:13: Shareholder Influence on CSR: A Study of the Swedish Corporate Sector

Emma Sjöström ()
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Emma Sjöström: Department of Marketing & Strategy, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: There is a growing expectation that shareholders can foster corporate social responsibility (CSR) through engagement activities. The aim of this study is therefore to explore the influence that shareholders have on corporations in terms of CSR. The study, which is set in Sweden, finds that corporations themselves do not perceive shareholders to have a significant direct influence on how they address CSR. At the same time, corporations find socially minded shareholders to be legitimate and important stakeholders. Corporations find that shareholders amplify general stakeholder pressure in the area of CSR, and that they can function as a catalyst for CSR by adding legitimacy to the work of CSR professionals. The one area where shareholders stand out as having a direct influence on CSR is with regard to corporate transparency and CSR reporting.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; CSR; socially responsible investment; shareholder activism; shareholder influence

22 pages, First version: June 5, 2009. Revised: December 4, 2009.

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