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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility in food retail category management

Rotter, Julia; Ozbek, Nurgul; Mark-Herbert, Cecilia


Purpose– The objective of this paper is to understand how corporate social responsibility issues are managed through a multi-stakeholder dialogue and reflected in category management decisions. Design/methodology/approach– The paper is based on a qualitative research design following a case study approach to understand the associated conditions and challenges when addressing complex corporate responsibility issues. 

Findings–Food retailers are particularly exposed given their central position in the supply chain. One way for retailers to differentiate is by taking responsibility for what is being offered to the consumers, referred to as category management. An extended stakeholder dialogue offers valuable exchange of knowledge and an opportunity to balance a wide set of values and interests. Corporate challenges are associated with the selection of dialogue partners, trust, shared value creation and the underlying query of corporate raison d’être. Limitations – The case adopts a corporate perspective of the second largest food retailer in Sweden. It serves as a contemporary contextualized example, where the underlying reasoning could be extended to other retailers. Implications– The paper contributes to the understanding of stakeholder management in relation to the character of an organization, when it comes to strategic decisions related to retail portfolio management. It seeks to understand what the role of category management as a CSR tool could be. Contribution – Corporate Social Responsibility offers an extended perspective of values and criteria for evaluating organizational performance, which is founded in economic, social and environmental aspects of corporate conduct. The case offers a unique perspective on how a traditional company rationalizes choices and decisions that go beyond pure profit maximization objectives. It aims at academic persons as well as practitioners in the field.


corporate social responsibility, dialogue, food retail, sense-making, stakeholder theory, supply chain, tiger shrimp

Published in

Social Business
2012, Volume: 2, number: 3, pages: 223-241