"The discourses' narrative battle: The company as an exploiter or a Good Samaritan?", September 29, 13:15-15:00, room Gunnar, Holländargatan 32. This seminar has been canceled due to illness.
The purpose of this study is to investigate how legitimacy threatening criticism affects and changes the exposed company’s public narrative on its responsibility of human rights in the supply chain.
The research question is the following: How does a company, driven by the dominate discourse of financial performance towards its shareholders, act when a counter discourse of social performance on responsibility over human rights in the supply chain threatens the legitimacy of the company over a longer time period?
In order to answer the research question, a case study of the Swedish apparel retailer H&M was conducted between 1995-2015. From the field material the narratives of the actors criticising H&M was compared with the responses of H&M towards this criticism.
A discursive theoretical framework was used to analyse the field material to answer the research question. In the theoretical framework, the dominant discourse of financial performance had to adapt to the legitimacy threatening criticism from the counter discourse by means of translating the requirements of increased social performance to harmonise with the dominant discourse of financial performance.
The conclusion was that the company is forced into a balancing act with three phases: The first phase is only discursive, when the company tries to convince the critical actors that its supply chain practise is legitimate. If the criticism does not fade away, the second phase means that the company is forced to translate the criticism from the counter discourse into concrete changes in the supply chain practise. In the third phase, the company presents the changes in the supply chain practise. If the changes are not approved and the criticism remains, the balancing act is repeated.
The seminar will be in Swedish. If you want to receive Jenny Ählströms' manuscript, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org