CSR has witnessed global resonance (Jamali and Neville 2011), facing different formal and informal institutional environments, which characterise the national identify of each country (Khanna et al. 2006; Hira and Hira 2000). This challenges the understanding of CSR and the validity of the standardised global CSR agenda, as such understanding relies heavily upon the institutional context of the countries (North 1990; Kim et al. 2013).
Responding to requests to contextualise CSR research, this study examines the institutional forces affecting CSR in the Russian energy industry by focusing on the changing set of stakeholders as reflected in CSR activities in the Russian energy sector, such as oil, gas, electrical power and coal. This study is a detailed qualitative analysis of CSR in Russia, a country with different value and political systems from the Western countries where CSR was initially developed. I make reference to a number of theories, which include neo-institutional and stakeholder theories, drawing on Scott’s (1995) conceptual model of three institutional pillars, the regulative, the normative and the cultural-cognitive, to examine institutional forces.
This study presents empirical findings drawn from 29 semi-structured interviews with representatives of the Russian energy industry. CSR reports and websites are used to strengthen and verify the use of interview data (Fernando 2010). The findings demonstrate that energy companies are subject to various institutional forces. All three pillars, regulative, normative and cultural, serve as a justification for CSR in the given context. CSR reflects complex interaction between national formal and informal institutions, in addition to the interaction between international institutions.