Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 91, Supplement 2, pp 243–263 | Cite as

How do Leading Retail MNCs Leverage CSR Globally? Insights from Brazil

  • Luciano Barin CruzEmail author
  • Dirk Michael Boehe


This study examines how multinational corporations (MNCs) from the retail sector deal with four challenges they face when adopting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies: the challenge of developing well-performing CSR projects and programs, building competitive advantages based on CSR, responding to local stakeholder issues in the host countries and learning from different CSR experiences on a worldwide basis. Based on in-depth case studies of two globally leading retail MNCs (with strong operations in Latin America), the concept of Transverse CSR Management emerged. Transverse CSR Management is defined as a distinctive form of organizational configuration that crosses different functional areas, country operations, and the boundaries of the firm. In particular, this article makes three main contributions: (1) we identify four central challenges faced by MNC managers when developing their CSR strategies; (2) we propose the concept of Transverse CSR Management to face these central challenges (together, at the same time) and identify its key elements (top management, external stakeholders, functional areas, and country subsidiaries); and (3) we propose four mechanisms (hierarchical, relational, cultural, and collaborative) through which the concept of Transverse CSR Management can be implemented by practicing managers. This study provides valuable insights for MNC managers in headquarters and subsidiaries on the issues they need to address in order to successfully deal with the four CSR-related challenges.

Key words

CSR emerging economies Latin America Headquarter–subsidiary relationship MNCs Transverse CSR Management 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arraya, M. (2006) Exploring Terra Incognita: Non-financial Reporting in Corporate Latin America. Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 21:25-38.Google Scholar
  2. Barin-Cruz, L.; Pedrozo, E. A; Bacima, R. and Queiroz, B. 2007. Company and Society: The “Caras do Brasil” (Faces of Brazil) program as leverage for sustainable development. Management Decision, 45: 8, 1297-1319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnett, M. L. 2007. Stakeholder Influence Capacity and the Variability of Financial Returns to Corporate Social Responsibility. Academy of Management Review. 33: 3, 794-816.Google Scholar
  4. Bartlett C.A., Ghoshal S, (1989) Managing across borders: the transnational solution, Boston, Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  5. Birkinshaw, J. and Morrison, A. 1995. Configurations of strategy and structure in subsidiaries of multinational corporations. Journal of International Business Studies, 26: 4, 729-754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, S. and K. Eisenhardt: 1995, ‚Product Development: Past Research, Present Findings, and Future Directions’, The Academy of Management Review 20(2), 343–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chudnovsky, D. and Roitter, M. 2008. Arcor Group’s Internationalization and the Arcor Foundation in Brazil. Case # SKE110, Havard Business School Press, Cambridge (MA). .Google Scholar
  8. Eisenhardt, K. M. 1989. Building Theory from Case Studies Research. Academy of Management Review, 14:4, 532-550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fischer, W. and J. Behrman (1979) The Coordination of Foreign R&D Activities by Transnational Corporations, Journal of International Business Studies, 10(3): 28-35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foss, T. & Pedersen, T. 2002. Transferring knowledge in MNCs: The role of sources of subsidiary knowledge and organizational context, Journal of International Management , 8, 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gassmann, O. and M. Zedtwitz (2003), International Process in Transnational Corporations. In: Shavinina, L. (eds) International Handbook of Innovation. New Jersey: ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  12. Ghoshal, S. and Bartlett, C. 1988. Creation, Adoption and Diffusion of Innovations by Subsidiaries of Multinational Corporations. Journal of International Business Studies, 19: 365-388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ghoshal, S. and Nohria, N. 1993. Horses for courses: organizational forms of multinational corporations, Sloan Management Review, 34(2): 23-35.Google Scholar
  14. Gupta, A. and Govindarajan, V. 1991. Knowledge flows and the structure of control within multinational corporations. Academy of Management Review, 16(4): 768-792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gupta, A. and Govindarajan, V. 1994. Organizing for knowledge flows within MNCs. International Business Review, 3(4): 443-457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Husted, B. and Allen, D. B. 2006. Corporate social responsibility in the multinational enterprise: strategic and institutional approaches. Journal of International Business Studies. 37, 838-849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones, T. M.; Felps, W. & Bigley, G. A. 2007. Ethical Theory and Stakeholder-Related Decisions: The role of stakeholder culture. Academy of Management Review. 32 (1), 137-155.Google Scholar
  18. Kanter, R.M. and R. R. Pinto 2007. Banco Real: Banking on Sustainability. Case #: 305100,Havard Business School Press, Cambridge (MA).Google Scholar
  19. Martinez, J. and Jarillo, C. 1991. Coordination demands of international strategies, Journal of International Business Studies, 22, 429-444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Matten, D. & Moon, J. 2008. “Implicit” and “Explicit” CSR: A conceptual framework for comparative understanding of corporate social responsibility. Academy of Management Review. 33 (2), 404-424.Google Scholar
  21. McWilliams A., Siegel D. (2001) Corporate social responsibility: a theory of the firm perspective, Academy of Management Review 26(1):117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Melé, D.; Debeljuh, P and Arruda, M. C. 2006. Corporate Ethical Policies in Large Corporations in Argentina, Brazil and Spain. Journal of Business Ethics, 63, 21-38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Miles, MB. & Huberman, AM. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  24. Nobel, R. and, Birkinshaw, J., 1998. Innovation in multinational corporations: control and communication patterns in international R&D operations. Strategic Management Journal, 19, 479-496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nohria, N. and Ghoshal, S., 1997. The differentiated network: A new model for organizing multinational corporations, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  26. O’Donnell, S., 2000. Managing foreign subsidiaries: agents of headquarters, or an interdependent network? Strategic Management Journal, 21: 5, 525-548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oliveira, J. A. P. 2006. Corporate Citizenship in Latin America: New Challenges for Business. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 21, 17-20.Google Scholar
  28. Oliveira, J. A. P. and Gardetti, M. 2006. From the Periphery to the Center: Analysing Changes to Prioritize Corporate Citizenship in Perez-Companc, Argentina. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, 71-83.Google Scholar
  29. Orlitzky, M., Schmidt, F. L., and Rynes, S. L. 2003. Corporate social and financial performance: A meta-analysis. Organization Studies, 24, 403–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Paterson, S.L. and Brock, D.M. 2002. The development of subsidiary management research: review and theoretical analysis. International Business Review, 11, 139-163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peinado-Vara, E. 2006. Corporate Social Responsibility in Latin America. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 21, 61-69.Google Scholar
  32. Persaud, A., Kumar, U. and Kumar, V. 2002. Coordination structures and innovative performance. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 19: 1, 57-75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Porter, M. E. 1990. The competitive advantage of nations. Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Porter, M. E. and M. R. Kramer: 2002, ‚The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy’, Harvard Business Review, 56–86.Google Scholar
  35. Porter, M. E. and M. R. Kramer: 2006, ‚Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility’, Harvard Business Review, 78–92.Google Scholar
  36. Randoy, T. & Li, J. 1998 Global resource flows and MNE network integration. In: Hood, N. (Ed) Multinational Corporate Evolution and Subsidiary Development, MacMillan, London.Google Scholar
  37. Reynolds, M. A. & Yuthas, K. 2008. Moral Discourse and Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting. Journal of Business Ethics. 78, 47-64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rodriguez, P.; Siegel, D. S.; Hillman, A. and Eden, L. 2006 Three lenses on the multinational enterprise: politics, corruption, and corporate social responsibility. Journal of International Business Studies. 37, 733-746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Russo, M. and Fouts, P. 1997. A Resource-based perspective on corporate environmental performance and profitability, Academy of Management Journal, 40(3): 534-559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuasion with Case Studies. Academy of Management Journal , 50:1, 20-24.Google Scholar
  41. Simola, S. K. 2007. The pragmatics of care in sustainable global enterprise. Journal of Business Ethics . 74, 131-147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Taggart, J. 1997. Autonomy and procedural justice: A framework for evaluating subsidiary strategy. Journal of International Business Studies, 28: 1, 51-76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. UNCTAD: 2005, World Investment Report: Transnational Corporations and the Internationalization of R&D (United Nations, New York & Geneva).Google Scholar
  44. Waddock S., Graves S (1997) The corporate social performance-financial link. Strategic Management Journal 18:303-319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. World Commission on Environment and Development 1987. Our Common Future, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Yin, R.K. 2002. Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
  47. Young, S., & Tavares, A. T. 2004. Centralization and autonomy: back to the future. International Business Review, 13, 215-237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zahra, S., R. Dharwadkar and G. George: 2000, ‚Entrepreneurship in Multinational Subsidiaries: The Effects of Corporate and Local Environmental Contexts’, Retrieved 28 April 2003.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HEC MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Insper Institute of Education and ResearchSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations