Fachgruppensitzung Wirtschaft 2021

Organizer: Harald Conrad

The institutional work of actors in the Japanese Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) sector: a discursive-institutional approach (Ramona Rosalewski, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf)

In recent years, the focus on the responsibility of the financial sector has strengthened due to the large investments that are needed to meet the Paris Agreement targets and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the case of Japan, the acceleration of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) can be observed as well. So far, the SRI academic literature has primarily paid attention to the financial performance of sustainable investment portfolios. However, this exclusive focus on the business case for SRI as a driver for sustainable practices is problematic as it neglects the institutional work of financial industry actors as a precondition for a successful transformation to truly sustainable portfolios. To address this lacuna, this PhD project will analyse Japanese SRI from a socio-economic perspective, focusing on institutionalization processes and the corresponding strategies of actors in the Japanese financial field.

Guided by a discursive model of institutionalization (Phillips/ Lawrence/ Hardy 2004) and institutional work theory (Lawrence/ Suddaby 2006), this project focuses on the following questions: Who are the (collective) institutional actors in the organisational field of Japanese SRI? What were the institutional patterns of the Japanese financial sector in the past, and who were the main actors? What are the respective strategies and action patterns of stakeholders in the Japanese SRI field? Why are they choosing their respective strategies?

To answer these questions, we will use the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse by Reiner Keller, which will be utilized to derive hypotheses and codes via textual analysis of a Japanese ESG magazine, government documents and news articles. In a second step, we will conduct qualitative semi-structured interviews with experts of the Japanese financial sector to expand and critically reflect on the knowledge gained from the literature review, as well as the discourse analysis. With this project, we hope to broaden the understanding of the SRI sector in an Asian country, enhance our comprehension of institutionalization and institutional work in economies categorized as coordinated market economies, and provide practical implications for the Japanese SRI sector in general.

The appeal of German products for Japanese consumers: A study of the country-of-origin effect using the example of natural cosmetics made in Germany (Tamara V. Teschner, University of Duisburg-Essen)

This study is the first to examine the possible importance of country-of-origin (COO) labelling in regard to Japanese consumers and natural cosmetics made in Germany. On the whole, it aims at answering whether and to what extent the COO effect plays a role in Japanese consumers’ purchasing decisions towards German-manufactured natural cosmetics. In order to answer this question, the research follows an exploratory design by gathering and analysing primary data through semi-structured interviews with German and Japanese industry experts and a self-administered questionnaire distributed to Japanese consumers.

The study provides a stepping stone and a solid foundation for future research as it contributes to the COO literature and in particular to our understanding of natural cosmetics that form a market of rising importance. The study’s results reveal, amongst others, the underlying consumer perceptions and expectations of the Japanese respondents. The study clearly shows the importance of the COO effect on purchase decisions regarding natural cosmetics.

LGBTQ+ in the Japanese workplace: Between rainbow-washing and LGBTQ+ advocacy – An analysis of indices of LGBTQ+ friendliness in Japanese companies (Annika Clasen, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf)

Although Japan is often associated with a fairly open queer culture, the LGBTQ+ community experiences a variety of structural and societal discriminations. Most notably, LGBTQ+ employees face multiple discriminations related to company guidelines, policies, and overall job security. In response, various Japanese organisations have developed indices to measure the LGBTQ+ friendliness of workplaces. Against the backdrop of a stronger visibility of LGBTQ+ in companies’ advertisements, evidence of false claims of corporate social responsibility, and a lack of anti-discrimination laws in Japan, this paper examines these indices to assess their limitations and potentials. Comparing in detail four indices ((Work with Pride (wwP), Diversity and Inclusion Award (D&I), Open Project Japan (OPJ) and the Sustainable Development Goals in Japan (SDG)) to the newest research regarding workplace climate, we focus on the question how good the indices are in indicating LGBTQ+ friendly work environments and assess the risk of them being simply instruments of “rainbow-washing”.

Our results show that the four indices differ strongly. While OPJ and SDG are almost exclusively boilerplate symbols working with only three or no variables for measuring LGBTQ+ friendliness in companies, wwP and D&I hold the potential to make significant and effective predications on the LGBTQ+ inclusive measures of a company. The latter indices thus have the potential to indicate to LGBTQ+ individual companies with safe working environments that match their needs.