Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Corporate social responsibility in the forest products industry : an issues management approach

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  • Business is a social institution and society has always designated a role for business which has been undergoing changes with changing societal values and paradigms. Thus while business has always had some responsibilities, the modern connotation of the words corporate social responsibility commonly refers to business assuming responsibilities in economic, social and environmental realms. Relevance and acceptance of this view regarding the role of business in society has been increasing and is especially important for sectors such as the forest products industry. However corporate social responsibility in the forest products industry is an under- investigated area, more so, in the US context. To fill this gap, this research investigates corporate social responsibility in the US forest products industry. This is done by first developing a general theoretical foundation about the concept of corporate social responsibility, followed by investigating students' perceptions regarding the success of the US forest products industry in fulfilling its economic, social and environmental responsibilities. These students were drawn from four academic majors at Oregon State University and University of Montana and their perceptions were assessed on items covering economic, social and environmental responsibilities that were developed in Finland. The results suggest that students with different academic majors perceive the US forest products industry's success in fulfilling its economic, social and environmental responsibilities differently. Differences in perceptions were also found between male and female students. Limitations associated with this study led to conducting a broader study by first identifying social and environmental issues associated with the US forest products industry and then assessing the perceptions of general society with regards to industry's performance on these issues. Issues were identified by developing a two stage framework that consists of key-informants interviews and a Delphi group decision-making technique. Societal perceptions were assessed relative to industry perceptions for developing insights into business and society interaction. This was done by developing an issues evaluation framework consisting the legitimacy gap and expectational gaps components. Results suggest that significant legitimacy and expectational gaps exist between societal respondents and industry managers, indicating managerial attention to the social and environmental issues facing the US forest products industry.
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