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"It's a Bible!" Unexpected use, misuse and non-use of CSR standards among "activist" workers

Marie Lemaire ()
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Marie Lemaire: LaRGE Research Center, Université de Strasbourg

Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center from Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg

Abstract: The purpose of this empirical study is to understand how "activist" workers use CSR standards in order to manage tensions stemming from their idealist identity. I use a narrative methodology with findings based on the analysis of narratives from shop-floor workers who combine activism and work in a cooperative network of organic shops framing the activity of independent retailers through a specification note detailing CSR imperatives. I contrast two dynamics. As subjects in the application of standards, workers display a deep trust towards the standards creator, arising from an imaginary about the expertise and ethics of the organization. Hence, they blindly use this management tool as a resource to frame the hyper-awareness and hyper-knowledge which create endless internal conflicts. As objects of those standards, workers tend to adopt a more critical or cynical stance. Hence, dissatisfied workers use standards as a resource in a struggle for their own sake, framing their propensity to sacrifice in order to support a higher purpose. The main contribution of the present paper is to show that CSR standards are used as resource to outsource identity tensions management to the organization. Those standards give "the right dose of stupidity" protecting workers from over-questioning and over-commitment that are double-edge swords for this kind of organizations.

Keywords: Identity tensions; coherence; activism; CSR standards; stupidity management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: M14 M19 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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