The Corporate Social Responsibility Story of Chiquita : GuiléAcademicAssessment

Item Type Monograph (Work Report)

in-depth assessment of the CSR of a multinational company - This is an in-depth study on the challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility at Chiquita, which I conducted together with Prof. Guido Palazzo and which was accompanied by Fondation Guilé. The study is based on an open-book policy through which we were granted unlimited access to internal and external resources. The result is an unprecedented piece of work offering an insider's view into the complexity of a multinational company's CSR, within one of the tightest markets.

Key elements of the research:

- In the early 1990s, Chiquita began an impressive assessment of its work so that it could evolve from a multinational that did not take into account the social and environmental impacts of its activities, into a "citizens" organisation with a comprehensive commitment to its stakeholders. Despite the resulting global CSR strategy and policy, Chiquita has hardly reaped any benefits. Neither retailers nor consumers or shareholders seem to have recognised the merits of this transformation towards becoming a highly engaged company acting as a good corporate citizen.

- The fact that Chiquita has been in financial difficulty in recent years has clearly limited the scope of its possible CSR. The company has had to constantly address the problem of trying to continue to do good, while not doing well. Despite its financial problems, Chiquita has never abandoned its belief in the strategic value of its CSR policy.

- Chiquita's controversial past and the debate on its payments to paramilitary factions in Colombia continue to haunt the company and undermine the credibility of its CSR efforts.

- Chiquita's claim that it produces socially responsible bananas with respect for the environment without guaranteeing a minimum price, as supported by the Rainforest Alliance, has come under significant criticism from Fairtrade Organization activists, who believe that there can be no equity without guaranteed prices. Chiquita strives to position itself as a credible producer of an equivalent alternative to Fairtrade via its CSR policy.

- Despite the fact that Chiquita was, in many respects, a pioneer in terms of protecting the environment, it sometimes faces greenwashing criticisms.

The study shows that Chiquita has made significant efforts and spent a lot of time on protecting its social and environmental commitment by anchoring it to daily and routine processes within its teams and building its CSR policy into an integral part of its corporate culture. However the viability of this strategy will be shown by its sustainability in the long term and one cannot help but wonder whether the Cutrale group, the new owners of Chiquita, and one of the world leaders in the production of oranges, will continue the CSR commitment Chiquita began more than 20 years ago. It also remains to be seen whether Chiquita's CSR efforts can become more credible and be converted into tangible returns to the company's stakeholders.

The study is particularly aimed at practitioners, teachers and their students, and university researchers. Its goal: to improve the general understanding of Chiquita's corporate responsibility strategy in order to draw lessons for other companies.

Authors Baur, Dorothea & Palazzo, Guido
Language English
Keywords Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Complicity, Leadership, NGO-business partnerships, trade unions, Fairtrade
Subjects business studies
HSG Classification contribution to practical use / society
Refereed No
Date 2015
Publisher Guilé
Depositing User Dr. Dorothea Baur
Date Deposited 05 Jun 2015 20:54
Last Modified 23 Aug 2016 11:21



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Baur, Dorothea & Palazzo, Guido: The Corporate Social Responsibility Story of Chiquita : GuiléAcademicAssessment. Guilé, 2015.

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