The research examines the apparent gap between a strong environmental and a weak social dimension of CSR practices of Japanese multinational companies. Looking at measurable instruments like certifications and reporting practices MNCs from Japan show an excellent performance especially on the environmental dimension of CSR. Looking at the social dimension, Japanese companies keep a rather low profile, which also reflects on global supply chain practices.
The presentation will show first results of explorative interviews with CSR consultants, auditors, academics, NGOs, government agencies and business practitioners. The strong emphasis on the ecological dimension of CSR seems to result from environmental legacies. Although the voice of civil society for CSR practices remains weak, Japanese MNCs have begun to pick up on wider CSR issues due to exposition to foreign markets with stronger demand for CSR, while on an industry level Japanese companies appear to prefer national over global initiatives.
Further investigation will look at the influence of foreign exposition and institutional change on CSR of Japanese MNCs and their supply chains. The specific characteristics of CSR in Japan will be traced back to the factors that determine the current state and understanding of CSR in Japan. While cultural factors may not be neglected it is hypothesized that the historical development and recent changes in the institutional system are the underlying principles for the current state of CSR in Japan. It appears that foreign exposition is indeed the main impetus for the debate on CSR in Japan.
Short CV: Uwe Holtschneider is a research associate at the Department of Business Studies of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Currently, he is spending a research stay at the German Institute for Japanese studies as a doctoral research fellow.