Articles

Norway, Transparency and Corporate Social Responsibility

In Norway on June 19, 2011 by vmcfarre Tagged: , , ,

We are all learning to define what it means to be socially responsible in a social media world both as consumers and producers. The private sector usually leads these efforts and governments usually lag behind in being involved in transparency,Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social media. In Norway, it is interesting to see that the Government is the entity leading these efforts, ahead of businesses.

The Norwegian Government’s policy paper on “Corporate social responsibility in a global economy”  was launched in 2009 and stresses that companies are not just operating in a market generating financial results, but also within a culture, a local community and a political system, and therefore have an impact on social development. This paper expresses the Norwegian Government’s commitment to exercising social responsibility in its own activities, conveys society’s CSR expectations to Norwegian companies, and outlines options of developing and influencing the framework for CSR, both nationally and internationally, using social media as a tool. These efforts are serving as an example to countries worldwide and continues to grow in importance as the role of government is now seen as necessary to promote CSR, and it is more effective when information is disseminated widely, showing transparency.

Despite these Government efforts, businesses in Norway are hardly using social media as a tool to promote CSR efforts. Social media websites and the internet are important tools to share information given that over 90 per cent of Norway’s population has internet access and over 50 per cent of the population uses Facebook on a weekly basis. Surveys show  that Norwegians are willing to use these tools more on a personal level but not something that businesses are willing to try at the moment.

For example, Get Satisfaction, a popular social CRM tool, was introduced to Facebook pagesin early March 2010. The application helps companies with their costumer service by including links such as: Ask a Question, Share an Idea, Report a Problem, and Give Praise. Norwegian business owners do not seem to have advantage of these applications and are still learning how to grasp the potential of internet marketing to engage their costumers.A planner of Scandinavian Design Group, Helge Tenno is a top Norwegian executive who says he is skeptical of the role that technology plays in building solid customer relationships and disseminate information. He understands the potential of internet marketing but stresses the necessity of face-to-face contact in business settings. Building personal relationships is important but social media is a great tool to disseminate information on CSR efforts and an opportunity to win new costumers.

Businesses have a responsibility that extends beyond financial value creation and can be described as ethical responsibility. As seen in Norway, promoting CSR using social media is a challenge and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future.  For the time being, the role and the importance that the Norwegian Government is playing in raising awareness about CSR in both the private and the public sectors is commendable.

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One Response to “Norway, Transparency and Corporate Social Responsibility”

  1. I really liked the direction that you headed towards with this post, in spotlighting how the Norwegian Government is bringing more attention to CSR as a component of business and what that might mean for any brand considering working in Norway. You make a good effort to link this topic to the importance of social media and how it could be used by brands to better promote and talk about their CSR efforts to a wider pool of people. There are a lot of factors keeping brands from doing this with social media, though, as you note in your post. The unanswered question that your reader will likely wonder from this post is whether you feel that there is a strong potential for these companies to use social media and if so, how might they do it in an environment where the value of communicating about CSR on a top level still seems suspect. Without trying to dig further into this question, your post just raises a great and important topic but doesn’t really go to that next level to talk about how it might actually relate to what brands actually need to do to use social media effectively. (4)

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