Corporate Social Responsibility in China: An Analysis of Domestic and Foreign Retailers' Sustainability Dimensions

Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 289-303, 2010

22 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2008 Last revised: 18 Jun 2010

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Pan Hong

Jilin University-Lambton College (JULC)

Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School

Date Written: July 27, 2008

Abstract

In the past decade, a sizable body of literature has built up on the concept and characteristics of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Western countries, where it has also been referred to as sustainability. More recently, attention has grown for CSR in emerging countries. Remarkably, China has hardly been studied so far. This paper aims to help fill this gap by considering, against this background, the CSR notion in China, through an exploration a small sample of large retailers in China, both Chinese and non-Chinese companies. The analysis of CSR/sustainability dimensions, as communicated by these large retailers in both the Chinese and English language, shows substantial differences between the Chinese and international contexts. Interestingly, the largest divergence can be found for international retailers between their Chinese and corporate attention for CSR (so home versus host settings), most notably in the case of Carrefour, and to a lesser extent, Wal-Mart. In the Chinese context, there are differences between the Chinese and international retailers as well (so domestic versus foreign firms), with the former reporting more on economic dimensions, including philanthropy, and the latter more on product responsibility - contentious labor issues and the environment receive relatively limited attention in both groups in China. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for research and practice.

Keywords: China, corporate social responsibility, retail, multinational companies, sustainability, reporting, sustainable development

JEL Classification: D21, F23, H7, G38, J50, K32, L1, L2, L81, M13, M3

Suggested Citation

Kolk, Ans and Hong, Pan and Dolen, Willemijn van, Corporate Social Responsibility in China: An Analysis of Domestic and Foreign Retailers' Sustainability Dimensions (July 27, 2008). Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 289-303, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1180263

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Plantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
Netherlands
+31 20 525 4289 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5281 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.anskolk.eu

Pan Hong

Jilin University-Lambton College (JULC)

Changchun, Jilin Province 130012
China

Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Amsterdam
Netherlands

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