Journal Article

Shareholder value versus stakeholder values: CSR and financialization in global food firms

Bryn Jones and Peter Nisbet

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 9, issue 2, pages 287-314
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwq033
Shareholder value versus stakeholder values: CSR and financialization in global food firms

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  • Moral Philosophy
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Can corporate social responsibility (CSR) complement or even replace unalloyed market forces, or state regulation and intervention? This article examines the scope of CSR amongst a test case of transnational food manufacturing corporations. It focuses on the determinants of CSR that stem from the financialization of business strategies and how these define and prioritize social commitments and roles within such firms’ internal organization. CSR policies, shareholder-value strategies and the rationalization of UK operations amongst four of the biggest global firms show a bias towards ‘external’ and brand-related priorities rather than ‘internal’ ones of job security and the social capital of workplace communities. The negotiated closure of two specific plants confirms an incompatibility between treating employees as stakeholders and, on the other hand, CSR as a business strategy. The ‘financialized’ approach to shareholder value shapes business strategy to prioritize corporate brand image and reputation rather than attempting sustainable operations and stakeholder partnerships.

Keywords: financialization; corporate social responsibility; human resources; industrial relations; multinational firms; trade unions; F23 multinational firms; international business; J53 labor-management relations; M14 corporate culture; social responsibility

Journal Article.  10721 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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