chapter  8
17 Pages

Poland: much risk, little benefit in CSR


Polish capitalism hardly fits into any specific type of market economy distinguished in the international literature. In line with the varieties of capitalism (VoC) approach, Poland is situated in between the co-ordinated market economy (CME) and the liberal market economy (LME), although it leans more towards the latter. The industrial relations system is pluralistic, with low trade union and employers’ organization density, as well as moderate collective agreement coverage. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relatively new concept in the public discourse in Poland. Furthermore, it could be said that there are several parallel, sub-discourses on CSR: within academia, within the business community (which is deeply divided as far as CSR is concerned), and among other stakeholders, where one can find organized forms of employee interest representation, first and foremost trade unions. Trade unions began to fully explore the field of CSR only after the enlargement of the European Union (EU) in 2004 and, although they have advanced considerably in their quest, they are still at the early stage of the process. The concept itself is not well known among rank-and-file members, and union leaders – whose knowledge is more developed – often treat CSR with caution, seeing it as a long-term threat rather than an opportunity for organized labour. Considering the essentially adversarial nature of Polish industrial relations, this reluctance to embrace CSR is hardly surprising, as trade unions often suspect there is a hidden agenda on the part of employers engaging in CSR activities.