• Ingen resultater fundet

incident  such  as  in  the  two  latest  cases,  such  long-­‐term  strategy  leaves  a  company  vulnerable   for  further  exposure  and  arguably  more  severe  damage  if  the  respective  company  does  not   deliver   on   their   promises.   Volkswagen   invested   heavily,   according   to   themselves,   in   their  

‘clean  diesel’  and  cars  with  lower  CO2  emission  thus  improving  customer  satisfaction  through   product  quality.  Since  it  turned  out  to  be  empty  marketing  more  than  actual  product  quality   and  the  reality  of  such  promises  become  easier  to  determine  and  expose  through  information   technology,  it  could  be  that  the  geographic  aspect  of  such  scandals  limit  the  impact  to  such  a   degree  that  greenwashing  is  still  economically  feasible.    


5.1.2  Geographic  factor    

Both  Nike  and  Apple  moved  the  production  of  their  products  to  Asia  in  the  attempt  to  reduce   their  costs,  but  outsourcing  their  production  also  initially  came  at  the  cost  of  less  control  of   the  conditions.  Furthermore,  the  attempt  to  lower  the  cost  also  meant  that  both  companies   had  to  compromise  their  ethical  responsibility  and  exploit  the  local  labour  force.  Although  the   two  scandals  occurred  with  an  interval  of  almost  20  years,  violations  of  human  and  workers   rights   were   the   focal   points   in   both   cases.   Another   similarity,   despite   the   development   in   information  technology,  is  the  continuing  increase  in  sales  in  the  companies’  largest  markets,   which  in  both  cases  was  not  either  China  or  Indonesia.  The  first  three  cases  all  started  with   local   news   coverage   of   various   sorts   that   eventually   moved   on   to   US-­‐   and   European   media.  

Both   Nike   and   Apple   experienced   increase   at   the   geographic   market   in   which   the   scandal   occurred,   but   these   markets   were   undoubtedly   their   smallest   markets   and   thus   easier   to   increase.   Coca-­‐Cola   however   experienced   both   massive   decrease   in   sales   and   production   in   India  due  to  the  closure  of  their  facilities,  but  besides  the  minor  protests  at  US  universities,  it   did  not  affect  sales  anywhere  else.  


Similarly,  Volkswagen  experienced  falls  in  both  revenue  and  sales  in  Europe  and  the  US,  but   the   Chinese   market,   which   is   Volkswagen’s   biggest   market,   continued   to   soar   in   both   parameters.  Thus,  it  seems  that  western  markets  are  not  affected  by  scandals  in  Asia  and  vice   versa,  Asian  markets  such  as  China  may  not  react  in  the  same  way  as  the  US  and  Europe  to  an   environmental   scandal   exposed   by   the   EPA.   Put   bluntly,   western   consumers   may   not   care  

enough   about   how   their   favourite   products   are   produced   in   Asia   to   actually   punish   the   companies  in  the  long  run  and  vice  versa,  Chinese  consumers  may  not  have  the  same  interest   in  western  environmental  standards  as  people  in  Europe  or  the  US.  If  this  is  the  case,  where   potential   short   term   financial   loss   can   be   either   minimized   or   avoided   due   to   previous   CSR   and   reputational   damage   neither   is   long   term,   it   is   arguably   one   of   the   reasons   why   companies  continue  to  greenwash.  


5.1.3  Consumer  or  corporate  social  responsibility  

 As   the   number   of   companies   reporting   on   responsible   corporate   behaviour   has   increased   along   with   the   increased   expectations   on   the   subject,   surveys   like   the   one   by   the   Nielsen   Company  are  becoming  increasingly  common.  Whether  the  aim  is  provide  further  incentive   for   companies   to   produce   more   green   products   or   forcing   consumers   to   think   about   their   ethical  shopping  behaviour  is  difficult  to  determine,  but  it  could  be  argued  that  the  result  of   Nielsen  Company’s  test  and  similar  ones  may  encourage  companies  to  redesign  their  business   model  to  accommodate  the  ethical  minded  customers.  55%  of  the  respondents  said  they  were   willing  to  pay  more  for  products  and  services  from  companies  committed  to  positive  social   and/or   environmental   impact.   Without   having   compared   prices   for   Volkswagen   diesel   cars   and  similar  brands,  Volkswagen  should  have  been  able  to  charge  more  for  their  clean  diesel   cars  compared  to  other  products  i.e.  cars  with  petrol  engines.  However,  the  social  discourse   regarding  one’s  ethical  behaviour  and  consumer  intentions  may  be  easier  to  “talk  than  walk”.  

Looking  at  the  sales  figures  for  both  Nike  and  Apple  and  how  both  companies  continued  to   increase  sales  after  they  were  initially  exposed  indicate  that  consumers  may  not  be  as  willing   to  change  their  behaviour  when  it  comes  to  their  favourite  products  and  they  need  new  shoes   or   a   new   phone.   Do   consumers   not   have   an   equal   responsibility   for   buying   or   not   buying   ethical  produced  product  or  refuse  to  buy  products  produced  under  unethical  conditions?  It   could   be   argued   that   there   should   be   a   difference   between   the   wish   of   buying   more   sustainable   and   responsible   produced   products   and   not   buying   or   boycotting   products   produced  in  non-­‐sustainable  ways,  but  this  would  arguably  be  a  bit  contradicting  and  not  very   convincing.    

While  we  have  argued  that  the  ethical  consumer  segment  has  not  reached  a  significant  size   until   recent   years   and   therefore   not   has   had   an   influence   on   especially   Nike’s   sales   in   the   1990’ies,  Apple’s  case  around  2010  should  have  been  impacted  if  close  to  50%  of  consumers   cared   about   the   circumstances   under   which   the   products   were   made,   but   the   soaring   sales   numbers   as   well   as   their   stock   value   indicate   that   neither   consumers   nor   analysts   punish   corporate  misbehaviour  to  such  a  degree  that  companies  are  forced  to  take  drastic  measures   in   their   production   or   even   in   their   CSR   practices.   Similarly,   Volkswagen   showed   signs   of   returning  to  normal  sale  figures  after  only  six  months.  As  argued  above,  it  is  important  to  have   an   implementation   plan   in   place   if   consumers   wish   to   change   their   purchase   behaviour.   If   consumers   do   not   have   this,   we   as   consumers   may   struggle   to   be   as   responsible   as   we   otherwise   express   we   are.   Thus,   it   would   seem   that   other   factors   such   as   brand   value   and   price  of  products  may  play  an  equally  or  bigger  role  than  consumers  noble  intentions.  But  if   we  as  consumers  focus  more  on  the  economic  aspect  of  our  purchase  decisions  compared  to   the  ethical  side,  are  we  then  even  allowed  to  criticize  companies’  decision  to  do  the  same?      


5.1.4  Time  for  CSR  2.5?  


As   Visser   (2011)   argues,  the   fact   of   the   matter   is   that,   beyond   basic   legal   compliance,   the   markets   are   designed   to   serve   the   financial   and   economic   interests   of   the   powerful,   not   the   idealistic   dreams   of   CSR   advocates   or   the   angry   demands   of   civil   society   activists”.  As   argued   above,  there  are  several  benefits  that  may  lead  to  improved  financial  performance  and  they  all   derive  from  investing  in  CSR.  If  companies  are  able  to  achieve  these  through  illusive  product   quality  or  falsely  acclaimed  image,  then  why  should  they  commit  in  any  significant  way  to  CSR   program?  This  interpretation  of  reality  could  explain  why  companies  continue  to  participate   in  greenwashing,  but  if  both  corporations  and  consumers  contribute  equally  to  the  problem,   could  the  solution  then  be  to  start  looking  at  CSR  in  a  new  way?  The  problems  of  the  current   situation  mainly  revolve  around  the  discrepancies  between  talk  and  action,  which  have  been   exposed  for  decades  and  continue  to  do  so.  Visser  (2011)  argues  that  CSR  in  its  current  forms   fails   because   it   is   both   incremental,   in   the   sense   that   it   is   incapable   of   match   the   scale   and   urgency   of   the   problems,   and   often   also   uneconomic   for   companies,   as   short-­‐term   markets   predominantly   reward   companies   that   externalise   their   costs   to   society.   Nevertheless,   companies   continuously   announce   CSR   ideals,   which   in   turn   create   expectations   of  

responsibility  from  society.  Christensen  et  al  (2013)  have  argued  that  these  expectations  for   responsibility  are  often  interpreted  by  organisations  as  a  demand  for  (more)  communication   assuming   that   stakeholders   are   interested   in   knowing   their   values   and   ideals   and   thus   organisations   are   inevitable   forced   into   behaviour   that   may   be   regarded   as   hypocritical   (Christensen  et  al,  2013).        


However,   if   society   evaluated   the   ‘talk’   part   through   other   lenses,   could   CSR   then   be   a   communicative   tool   used   to   strive   for   a   better   future   instead   of   a   parameter   of   which   companies  are  constantly  measured  by  and  judged  on?  And  could  the  accusations  of  hypocrisy   be  replaced  with  common  aspirations  towards  a  united  effort?    

The   elements   of   hypocrisy,   where   words,   decisions,   and   actions   have   varying   degrees   of   correspondence,  have  often  been  the  root  of  greenwashing.  This  type  of  hypocrisy  has  been   defined  as  duplicity.  This  type  of  hypocrisy  emerges  when  a  “company  is  involved  in  fraud  or   seeks   to   hide   an   unpleasant   truth   behind   pleasant   words”  (Christensen   et   al,   2013)   as   it   has   been   identified   in   the   four   cases   in   the   analysis.   However,   hypocrisy   can   also   be   used   as   aspiration   and   for   companies   to   stimulate   actions   and   utter   the   wish   for   a   better   future.  

Critics  would  argue  that  a  substantial  difference  between  the  two  is  the  lack  of  actions  in  the   latter  and  when  it  comes  to  social  and  environmental  responsibility,  this  problem  needs  to  be   eliminated.  But  talking  in  this  sense  could  also  be  considered  to  be  actions  and  that  this  action   is   necessary   for   companies   to   think   of   and   discover   new   solutions   and   especially   when   it   comes  to  issues  where  previous  ideas  have  been  inadequate.  Thus,  hypocrisy  in  the  form  of   fraud   and   lying   will   inevitably   create   cynicism,   but   in   its   other   form,   it   could   have   the   potential  to  foster  both  organisation  and  societal  change  affect  their  priories.  Therefore,  the   difference   between   the   two   is   not   purely   rhetorical   if   talk   about   change   is   considered   a   necessary  action.    


It  should  however  be  noted,  that  expressing  intention  is  not  the  same  as  actually  having  and   pursuing   these   intentions   and   in   this   sea   of   companies,   some   may   see   the   opportunity   to   mislead  or  lie  to  stakeholders.  But  as  long  as  there  are  opportunistic  companies  who  see  an   opportunity  to  exploit  this  debate,  there  will  be  critics  of  such  actions  and  as  the  number  of   stakeholders   grow,   partly   through   information   technology,   “talk  may  be   cheap,   or   at   least   cheaper  than  other  forms  of  action,  but  it  is  not  as  cheap  as  it  used  to  be”(Christensen  et  al,  

2013).  The  media  has  the  power  to  make  the  invisible  visible  for  everyone  and  stakeholders   in  general  have  become  more  empowered  to  examine  and  distribute  actions.  We  have  become   more   informed   about   the   subjects   that   used   to   be   invisible   through   information   technology   and  a  growing  interest.  However,  greenwashing  cases  continue  to  emerge  and  they  arguably   will  until  long-­‐term  public  or  legal  punishment  on  corporations  is  enforced  or  we  change  our   expectations  to  companies’  abilities  to  change  the  world  on  their  own.  While  we  have  become   more  informed,  it  could  be  argued  that  we  are  drowning  in  information  and  in  this  endless  sea   of   information   it   is   increasingly   difficult   to   distinguish   between   useful   and   useless   information.  Furthermore,  the  amount  of  information  regarding  corporate  misbehaviour  only   accounts  for  a  fraction  of  the  information  we  are  presented  with  on  a  daily  basis  and  that  the   time,  the  timespan  of  new  cases  have  shortened  to  such  a  degree  that  new  cases  can  emerge   before  judgement  can  be  passed  on  an  international  company.  Thus,  it  is  worth  considering  if   the   diverging   courses   of   companies   and   society   characterised   by   accusations,   unachievable   goals  and  morally  ambivalent  actions  should  aim  towards  a  more  common  course  of  CSR  2.5.      


5.1.5  Suggestions  for  further  research    

This  thesis’  approach  towards  the  role  of  information  technology  within  CSR  compliance  can   be  considered  as  highly  generic  as  the  concept  is  examined  through  a  theoretical  framework   as  well  as  being  supported  by  and  elaborate  on  our  assessment  by  applying  a  limited  selection   of  empirical  data.  

As  stated  earlier,  we  believe  the  concept  is  relevant  within  the  field  of  CSR  management  as   companies   are   approached   by   stakeholders   on   an   increasing   number   of   channels   regarding   subjects  such  as  their  CSR.  However,  we  are  also  aware  that  there  are  certain  challenges  that   this   thesis   does   not   examine.   Since   the   theory   and   studies   on   the   link   between   information   technology  and  CSR  compliance  is  relatively  limited,  we  believe  the  following  to  be  important   implications  for  future  research  on  the  subject.    


As   outlined   in   the   delimitation,   the   scope   of   this   thesis   does   not   cover   the   aspect   of   monitoring,   which   is   undoubtedly   also   an   important   aspect   of   modern   information   technology.  Unlike  the  scope  of  this  thesis,  this  would  focus  on  how  information  technology