Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Audrey Lorraine Mayer


Anne Maarit Kristiina Toppinen


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) addresses the responsibility of companies for their impacts on society. The concept of strategic CSR is becoming increasingly mainstreamed in the forest industry, but there is, however, little consensus on the definition and implementation of CSR. The objective of this research is to build knowledge on the characteristics of CSR and to provide insights on the emerging trend to increase the credibility and legitimacy of CSR through standardization. The study explores how the sustainability managers of European and North American forest companies perceive CSR and the recently released ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility.

The conclusions were drawn from an analysis of two data sets; multivariate survey data based on one subset of 30 European and 13 North American responses, and data obtained through in-depth interviewing of 10 sustainability managers that volunteered for an hour long phone discussion about social responsibility practices at their company. The analysis concluded that there are no major differences in the characteristics of cross-Atlantic CSR. Hence, the results were consistent with previous research that suggests that CSR is a case- and company-specific concept. Regarding the components of CSR, environmental issues and organizational governance were key priorities in both regions. Consumer issues, human rights, and financial issues were among the least addressed categories. The study reveals that there are varying perceptions on the ISO 26000 guidance standard, both positive and negative. Moreover, sustainability managers of European and North American forest companies are still uncertain regarding the applicability of the ISO 26000 guidance standard to the forest industry.

This study is among the first to provide a preliminary review of the practical implications of the ISO 26000 standard in the forest sector. The results may be utilized by sustainability managers interested in the best practices on CSR, and also by a variety of forest industrial stakeholders interested in the practical outcomes of the long-lasting CSR debate.