The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) receives increasing global attention in academia, the business world and international civil society. This master thesis aims to examine the global spread of CSR across territorial and cultural borders. The globalization literature describes diffusion of ideas as a reason why and how this spread takes place, this thesis uses this theoretical framework to examine how the Western concept of CSR reacts with local environments.
The thesis sets out to analyze how foreign companies’ CSR strategies are adjusted the emirate Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). More specifically, it discusses how foreign companies engage in CSR activities in the emirate. First, the investigation examines foreign companies’ CSR strategies in Dubai, and the framework of which they make their strategy decisions in. Then, the thesis discusses the state of CSR in Dubai following the global spread of the concept. The theoretical framework used to analyze these issues derives from the globalization literature’s notions of diffusion as a cultural consequence of the processes brought forth by globalization, as well as the current literature on CSR strategy and evolution.
The empirical data of the thesis was generated by two fieldworks in Dubai, in the period between November 2012 and February 2013. The investigation includes in-depth interviews with managers in five Norwegian companies operating in Dubai, accompanied by interviews with five local and international CSR specialists also based in the emirate.
The study finds that the main factors influencing foreign companies’ strategy choices and the local translation of the CSR concept in Dubai are the regime, society and global Head Quarters (HQs). The influences of these agents have different impacts on strategy and translation; HQs seem to encourage more international standards in company strategy and the conceptualization of CSR, and the regime, and society in a smaller degree, appear to pull in the opposite direction driving companies to engage in more traditional local strategies and the dilution of the CSR concept.