chapter  13
21 Pages

European trade unions and CSR: common dilemmas, different responses


This book has examined the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and trade unions across 11 European countries: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In this final chapter we offer a summary of the areas of distinctiveness within these countries as well as some conclusions addressing common themes that have emerged across many of them. Whilst national differences in attempts by unions to define and engage with CSR have been identified before, our book provides a more comprehensive coverage going beyond individual or small numbers of countries. Our aim has been to undertake a ‘mapping exercise’, profiling national differences through the lens of comparative institutionalism and sketching contemporary trade union perspectives and positions. The chapter begins with two sections summarizing our key findings on the development of CSR across the 11 countries and trade union responses to it. By way of conclusion, it then draws attention to particular themes that emerged as significant during the course of the research. These include the relationship between CSR discourse and traditional trade union agendas, the contrasts between domestic and international dimensions of CSR, and the relationship between trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Finally, the chapter suggests how trade union attitudes towards CSR across Europe can best be characterized, in broad terms, and offers some indication of how trade unions might usefully engage with this area in the future.