Vol. 2 No. 2 (2023): Vol 2, Iss 2, Year 2023

Caught between two worlds: CSR of Swiss Corporate Foundations

Daria Tamagni
Senior Consultant, Communication & Marketing Open Up AG Communication Services, Zurich, Switzerland
Krishnamurthy Sriramesh
Professor of Public Relations,University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA

Published 2023-12-31


  • CSR, Swiss Corporate.

How to Cite

Daria Tamagni and Krishnamurthy Sriramesh, “Caught between two worlds: CSR of Swiss Corporate Foundations”, ijp, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 25–34, Dec. 2023.


Purpose: This study explored the activities of Swiss corporate foundations as the CSR arms of their parent corporations. Even though Switzerland has a favorable legal context for setting up foundations and is perceived as a country with a long philanthropic tradition, little empirical research exists on this topic.

Design/Methodology: The sample of 14 foundations represented SMEs and large multinationals across eight industries. Qualitative in-depth interviews were used for data gathering, accompanied by elite interviews with opinion leaders. The data focused on various aspects such as the connection to the funding corporation, the rationale behind setting up the foundation, current perceptions on corporate citizenship as well as the stakeholder communication.

Findings: The findings revealed that Swiss corporate foundations seem to be caught between two worlds. They are beholden to a profit-oriented corporation for establishing them but they are expected by society to pursue the altruistic goal of being good citizens supporting charitable activities. They have a delicate balancing act to develop their own identity and position themselves to society. To stay within the legal boundaries and keep credibility high, these foundations struggled to not be seen as the publicity arm of the parent corporation – some foundations performing this balancing act better than others. Different structures such as the composition of the board of trustees or the place of work reflected the standpoint of the interviewees of either being independent or supporting the business.

Originality: To the best of our knowledge, no other study has explored the dimensions of Swiss corporate foundations as conducted in this study, which is important to the body of knowledge. Given the large number of corporate foundations in the world, this study helps broaden the horizons of the CSR body of knowledge.


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