Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 379–390 | Cite as

Cultural Competences: An Important Resource in the Industry–NGO Dialog

  • Maria Joutsenvirta
  • Liisa Uusitalo


This article explores the concept of cultural competence and its relevance as an organizational resource in ethical disputes. Empirically, we aim to reveal the cultural competences that a global forest industry company, StoraEnso, and a global environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO), Greenpeace, utilized in forestry conflicts during 1985–2001. Our study is based on data which were collected from corporate and NGO communication outlets and which have gone through a detailed discourse-semiotic analysis. Our reinterpretation of the discourses identified three cultural competences: (1) the ability to understand changing consumer preferences and values, (2) the ability to utilize culturally determined positions of expertise, and (3) the ability to maintain trust and credibility in the community through open communicative practices. We argue that these competences are relevant in industry–NGO disputes for both parties. However, maintaining them all simultaneously is a difficult task, since various discourses which aim at upholding them can sometimes have contradictory effects.


corporate social responsibility conflict consumer cultural competence dialog discourse ethical dispute forest industry NGO 


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Financial support for this project was provided by The Foundation for Economic Education, The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation in Finland and The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing and ManagementHelsinki School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland

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