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CSR, a Pretence or a Bona Fide; Case Study of M&S and Next

  • Sughra G
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The aim of the paper is to investigate CSR disclosures of M&S and Next, the UK’s eminent retailers for the period from 2010 to 2015. The extensive debate on the definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is yet unsettled because researchers have not agreed upon a conclusive and universal definition. In the intense competitive retail market, many of the retailers have been showing their concern about retaining their customers and working hard to build good reputation among the community (Fletcher in Sustainable fashion and textiles: design journeys. Earthscan, London, 2008; Hawley in Sustainable textiles: life cycle and environmental impact. Woodhead, New York, 2009). International comparative corporate governance research shows that UK CSR governance mechanisms are different (Aguilera et al. in Corp Gov: Int Rev 14(3):147–158, 2006) and UK firms have higher rates of social reporting and stakeholder management (Williams and Aguilera in Corporate social responsibility in a comparative perspective, 2006). Firms have been pursuing their own understanding of CSR (Jones et al. in Int J Retail Distrib Manag 33(12):882–892, 2005) while consisting within the broader social sector. However, there is lack of research in the literature specially related to UK retail industry which focuses on the environmental, social and philanthropic work (Pederson in J Bus Ethics 91(2):155–166, 2010). Also, the proliferation of incomplete ethical claims and so called green washing which is the practice of making spurious claims by some companies about the environmental benefits of their products, services or practices, has resulted in increased consumer mistrust about the intention of the firms (Jahdi and Acikdilli in J Bus Ethics 88(1):103–113, 2009). This study contributes to the literature by looking into the ethical performance of M&S and Next through the lens of CSR communications published in their CSR reports. The paper argues that some firms such as M&S and Next, use CSR communications as a tool to convey their socially responsible image to the stakeholders. But do they mean to create a social change, or it is just a pretence to calm the sentiments of their stakeholders. Moreover, the paper maps an overview of the CSR strategies with reference to environment, corporate philanthropy and community work. Practically, the study contains implications for policy makers of the retail firms which can enhance future potential of CSR. The limitation comprised of the generalisability of the findings and sample size.




Sughra, G. (2019). CSR, a Pretence or a Bona Fide; Case Study of M&S and Next (pp. 53–61).

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