Conference article

Corporate Social Responsibility for Charity or for Service Business?

Bo Enquist
Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden

Bo Edvardsson
Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden

Samuel Petros Sebathu
Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:78, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


CSR) and the service logic. To attract and retain customers; and thus make a profit; companies are continuously searching for innovative ways to create value and differentiate their market offerings (Shaw and Ivens; 2002). Gummesson (2006) is critical about the axiomatic pillars of marketing. He argues that these pillars are an exaggerated and simplistic reliance on a ‘free’ market economy; the marketing concept of customer needs and satisfaction seems to be the highway to profit; maximization of short term profit (shareholder value) is the only purpose of business; unlimited growth seems to be beneficial; corporate citizenship diluted to charity; and blindness to the effects of unethical and criminal action and black economies (ibid. p. 340). Gummesson (ibid.) looks for a broader view in marketing. Gene Laczniak argues for an expansion of the service-dominant logic for some societal and ethical dimensions (Laczniak; 2006). He has expanded four of Vargo & Lusch’s foundational premises (FPs) 3; 4; 6 and 8 from Vargo & Lusch (2004). This article will; in an explorative way; counter this critique by Gummesson (2006) and also expand the service-dominant logic for some societal and ethical dimensions (Laczniak; 2006) using CSR and show real business cases where CSR is an important part of value creation and value-in-use; from a stakeholder perspective (Enquist; et al; 2006). The focus is on CSR as part of the dominant-service logic (Lusch and Vargo; 2006); with the following two research questions in mind: Is CSR only for charity or can it be an active part of a service business? If it can be part of a service business; how will that look? This article is the first in service research to specifically focus on CSR.

Following this introduction; this paper presents two conceptual and theoretical analyses - (i) CSR and its relation to profit and charity (ii) CSR as part of a service business model. The paper then illustrates these concepts using a comparative study of four service firms; with particular emphasis on their different CSR activities and how these affect the mission of each company. All four of the service companies are global actors with strong Service Brands (Edvardsson; Enquist and Hay; 2006) and a leading position in using CSR as a driving force for doing business: IKEA; Starbucks; H&M and the Body Shop. The paper then draws together the conceptual analysis and the case studies in a discussion of how CSR can be a proactive driver in the service business. Because of the limit space for a QMOD paper the focus is on the conceptual and theoretical analysis part and the empirical part and discussion/conclusion has to be further developed.


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