Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs Prof. Dr. Andreas Nölke
Significant attention has recently been paid to the role of business in global governance. Changing attitudes, expectations of investors and public pressures have urged businesses to integrate ecological and social norms into their practices and to take part in the debate on sustainable development. While globalisation has reconfigured power relations between national and private actors, transnational corporations are increasingly held responsible for problems like pollution or human rights violations. Reframing these private actors from pure profit-seeking entities to “corporate citizens” has raised expectations and encouraged companies to ascertain their role in society. Business representatives have started to create networks that contribute to shaping the sustainable development agenda by influencing the establishment of new norms, novel institutions and the discourse on sustainable development. The point of departure for this study is the acknowledgement that we need to better understand how and why business is argumentatively shaping discourses. It is not intended to answer the question as to whether companies should integrate sustainable development-strategies into their activities. The study introduces an alternative theoretical and methodological approach that draws on constructivist ideas and implements the qualitative content analysis and a discourse analytical approach. On this note, a combination of inductive and deductive data analysis is pursued in order to propose the development of a supplemented theoretical approach and to better understand the way the discursive power of business is being exercised. The empirical research of this study is based on the analysis of documents and of semi-standardised interviews. Furthermore, the empirical analysis is assisted by the computer program ATLAS.ti.