(Self-)Regulating Multinational Tech Firms: The GAFA Corporations and Political Corporate Social Responsibility
The thesis evaluates Andreas Scherer's and Guido Palazzo's notion of political corporate social responsibility (CSR) in application to influential corporations in the IT-sector, namely to Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA). The analysis covers selected business activity of GAFA in Africa, Europe, the United States and China in the period from 2010 to 2020. To begin with, political CSR is defined, then distinguished from other CSR concepts and finally extended to digital issues, introducing, for the first time the concept of a political notion of corporate digital responsibility (CDR). To determine whether GAFA is actually putting political CSR/CDR into practice, the analysis builds on two phenomena highlighted by Scherer and Palazzo: the Regulatory Vacuum Effect (RVE) and the Race to the Bottom Effect (RBE) which make political CSR/CDR assessable in the categories of taxes, wages, labor unions, climate change, and the human right to privacy. GAFA's engagement with political CSR/CDR is then examined on the basis of academic literature, press, NGO and corporate positioning. On the positive side, the results show that GAFA convincingly implements political CSR/CDR initiatives with regard to climate change. On the negative side, GAFA displays a strong tendency towards tax avoidance. In the other categories, the results are mixed and company-specific in each case. The thesis concludes with statements on the scope and validation of the results and gives an outlook on further open questions regarding political CSR/CDR in the IT-sector.