Family Firms’ CSR Actions: the Case of Barilla
Domenico Morrone, Angeloantonio Russo, Donato Calace
The development and implementation of CSR oriented strategies is a common trait in modern organizations. As public authorities, customers, suppliers and the wider stakeholder community call for a more socially and environmentally responsible way of doing business, companies commit themselves in actions signaling their sustainable style of management. The publication of non-financial reports, the adoption of ethic codes, the granting of international standards and certifications (such as ISO 14001 or SA 8000) are some examples of actions in this direction. Still, the effectiveness of this commitment in terms of the enactment of corporate sustainability is questionable. Being the attainment of reputation and legitimacy the main driver behind such practices, in a socio-political perspective the appearance rather than the fact of conformity is often sufficient to create the image of a sustainable company, the so-called greenwashing. For this reason, these actions are frequently relegated to a symbolic management domain, failing to provide any proof of triggering substantial managerial acts. In this context, the presence of a sustainability-committed management can evidently play a critical role for CSR actions to generate actual and deep organizational change. In particular, relevant literature provides evidence of the relationship between family firms (that are firms where members of the founding family continue to remain as significant company shareholders and/or are in senior management positions or hold a seat on the board of directors) and socially responsible behavior. Indeed, family firms founders consider their business as an extension of their personal lives, including non-economic reasons and goals in their style of management. Through an exploratory case study of the worldwide famous Italian pasta maker, Barilla, and its sustainability reporting process this study gives an original contribution to the debate regarding the implications of corporate ownerships structures, investigating how the intersection of two principal institutions (business and family) moderates the relationship between CSR actions and substantial management.
CSR, Family Business, Sustainability Reporting, Substantial Management.
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