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Business and Politics

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Explaining Regulatory Preferences: CSR, Soft Law, or Hard Law? Insights from a Survey of Nordic Pioneers in CSR

Maria Gjølberg1

1University of Oslo

Citation Information: Business and Politics. Volume 13, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, DOI: 10.2202/1469-3569.1351, August 2011

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Business is often assumed to resist increased social and environmental regulation, preferring voluntary or soft-law approaches to global governance. This article analyzes the dynamics between CSR, soft law, and hard law by exploring corporate attitudes in the Nordic area towards CSR and regulation—an area reputed to be a forerunner in both CSR and social and environmental regulation. The analysis, based on a survey of the Nordic companies with the strongest CSR performance, reveals skepticism towards relying on CSR and voluntary approaches, combined with a very strong preference for increased international regulation of social and environmental issues. Drawing on insights from recent analyses in the governance literature, the article discusses the conditions under which business favors increased social and environmental regulation, concluding that corporate self-interest and increased international regulation can indeed coincide.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; hard law; soft law; regulatory preferences; business strategy

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