Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ESTER — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506323
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS
Country: France

Corporate social responsibility in a European context

Recent research has looked into how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can contribute to a positive approach in the company's social and economic environment. European performance as a whole also stands to benefit.
Corporate social responsibility in a European context
CSR is a form of self-regulation whereby a business monitors and makes sure it complies with the spirit of the law and ethical standards. In the case of transnational companies, international norms are adhered to and include embracing responsibility for a positive impact on its environment, consumers of its products, employees and all its stakeholders.

An EU-funded project, 'Social regulation of European transnational companies', (ESTER) has conducted an investigation into how such businesses can contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy. Drawn up in 2000 to run to 2010, the aim of the Strategy was to make the EU into a competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with plentiful employment and more social cohesion.

To conduct the investigation, ESTER researchers collected information from 350 interviews in 30 European multinational companies as well as an analysis of questionnaires, company websites and a panel from some 200 companies. ESTER also used a scenario approach to analyse the impact of legislation on CSR. Stakeholders involved included companies, trade unions and civil servants from relevant ministries.

ESTER found that CSR was mainly motivated by image issues, either to gain a competitive advantage or to offset damage to the corporate image. Research also uncovered that little reference was made to the EU's normative framework when defining CSR as most transnational enterprises mainly rely on internal mechanisms rather than on legal or court regulations.

As a result of the extensive amount of data collected, ESTER drew up comprehensive advisory guidelines on CSR initiatives, regulatory instruments and implementations based on responses to such initiatives. The resulting framework can be used to extend the net of the Lisbon Strategy following the completion of its influence in the first decade of the 21st century and may also be an exportable social model applicable in other social spheres.

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