1 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Language and Business Communication, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Heightened public interest in company efforts to address global issues, such as the climate issue, has influenced corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethics programs (May, Cheney, & Roper, 2007). This interest has sparked a so-called “third generation” approach to CSR which involves extending beyond company-bound issues such as fulfilling legal obligations, improving workplace conditions and supporting local communities, to addressing broader, universal issues which affect humankind in general (Stohl, Stohl, & Popova, 2009). Due to the scope of these global problems, and the impossibility of one company solving them alone, this shift has also inspired corporate collaboration with other companies, nonprofits, or governments (Austin, 2000). This paper aims at making an empirically based contribution to our understanding of this apparent contemporary evolution of CSR in the context of globalization. To do so, we examine the CEO introductions to sustainability reports in four Nordic energy companies and (1) evaluate the ways the companies position themselves thematically in a global issues framework, and (2) determine the extent to which they reflect engagement with the ideals of third generation CSR. The analysis reveals that although third generation thinking is apparent, it does not dominate. Approaches to CSR primarily reflect company-bound second generation thinking, framed within a global domain in a “Think global, act local” discourse.