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Discursive (de)legitimation of a contested Finnish greenfield investment project in Latin America

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Scandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number1
Volume25
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)85-96
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Despite the central role of legitimacy in corporate social responsibility debate, little is known of subtle meaning-making processes through which social actors attempt to establish or de-establish legitimacy for socially contested corporate undertakings, and through which they, at the same time, struggle to define the proper social role and responsibility of corporations. We investigated these processes in the context of the intense sociopolitical conflict around the Finnish forest industry company Metsä-Botnia's world-scale pulp mill in Uruguay. A critical discursive analysis of Finnish media texts highlights three types of struggle that characterized the media coverage: legalistic argumentation, truth fights, and political battles. Interestingly, this case illustrates how the corporate representatives – with the help of the national media – tend to frame the issue in legalistic terms, emphasize their expert knowledge in technical and environmental evaluations, and distance themselves from political disputes. We argue that similar tendencies are likely to characterize corporate social responsibility debates more generally.