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Patterns and Explanations of Corporate Voluntary Norm Compliance: Results from a Structured Focused Comparison of German G500 in the Global Reporting Initiative

GPS, Vol. 9 No. 2, (2013)

In new forms of voluntary approaches to regulation (VAR) the functional division of labour between the private and the public sector is blurred. Companies have taken on authoritative roles and regulatory functions in national and transnational contexts. Given the growing use of corporate so-cial responsibility (CSR) initiatives, it is important to understand the extent to which companies comply with non-binding norms, the factors that affect compliance, and the strategies available to increase it. This article detects patterns and explanations of the outcome of a transnational multi-stakeholder VAR in the field of sustainability reporting. It analyses volun-tary norm compliance of Global Fortune 500 companies originating from Germany (German G500) in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). I start introducing descriptive categories and distinguish three patterns of corporate norm-consumership: all-embracing norm-consumers, incomplete norm-consumers, and non-consumers. Next, I discuss corporate norm compliance in the GRI and highlight the research methodology and case selection. Then, I apply a framework for analyses that combines the isomorphism approach from sociological neo-institutionalism with an actor-level perception argu-ment. I present findings from a structured focused company comparison, test domestic and transnational factors of influence and come up with the conclusion that a causal complex consisting of one necessary and eight significant conditions adds explanatory value.

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