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Corporate Social Responsibility in the Coffee Industry

Master Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the Degree Master of Science in International Tourism Management

Submitted to Dr. Ursula Christine Loisch

Antonia Ria Markoulakis
1013003

Vienna, 8th June 2012

AFFIDAVIT
I hereby affirm that this Master‟s Thesis represents my own written work and that I have used no sources and aids other than those indicated. All passages quoted from publications or paraphrased from these sources are properly cited and attributed. The thesis was not submitted in the same or in a substantially similar version, not even partially, to another examination board and was not published elsewhere.

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ABSTRACT
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a prevalent topic today whether it is in business or in academia. The last 40 years have seen a constant evolution of the concept of CSR and many things have been written about it. Today CSR practices do not constitute a matter of whether to implement it or not, but how to implemented it. The dialogue around CSR has seen a shift from philanthropic practices that aim to improve a company's corporate image to strategic CSR, which is aligned with a company's core strategy According to Porter‟s (2006) theory, strategic CSR can lead to an added competitive advantage. When a social dimension is added to the value proposition of a company, making it an inseparable part of the company's core strategy then the most strategic CSR can occur. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate whether CSR strategies can improve the market performance of a company. The coffee sector was chosen as the field for analysis, as it is known for its numerous ethical issues and direct impact to so many lives. Six well known coffee companies with a combined revenue totaling almost 18 billion € were selected and analyzed. The study was based on a content analysis method, which tried to analyze and identify the CSR activities from all the data available from the companies websites. The findings reveal that companies that are turning over significantly more revenue than others, have the resources to act and showcase much more relating to their CSR activities and actions. Almost all the coffee companies analyzed place strategic CSR at the core of their strategy with Starbucks and Nespresso leading the way. Overall it was found that market performance is significantly improved by adopting CSR relating strategies. Further transparency is required to be able to measure and evaluate the CSR initiatives regarding their overall sustainability efforts, but as a whole the industry is by far in a much better position compared to other industries. There is a long way to go before an absolute social dimension can be created by all companies analyzed. Further research in the field is required to enable business and academics to create better evaluation and measurable methods concerning their CRS activities, possibly considering community and employee relations in a similar but larger study. Government should also get involved to introduce minimum sustainable standards and other industries should also get involved to exchange expertise in the field and take strategic CSR to worldwide acceptance.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author wishes to thank Ursula Loisch for assisting and guiding her in her educational path. By providing her with constructive feedback the author had the freedom to grow and express her thoughts as much as possible. Furthermore a word of thank you is been given to her family, as she would not be able to start nor to finish this thesis without their continuous support.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Affidavit .......................................................................................................................... I Abstract ........................................................................................................................ III...
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