Harley-Davidson’s success is partly built on the effectiveness of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies in addressing stakeholders’ needs and interests. Based on Archie Carroll’s theory of corporate social responsibility, stakeholders are individuals or groups that affect and are affected by the business. In Harley-Davidson’s case, stakeholders significantly influence customers’ perception about the company and its brand and products. The firm must address stakeholders’ interests. These interests serve as a reflection of Harley-Davidson’s target customers’ concerns. Through appropriate corporate social responsibility programs, Harley-Davidson satisfies its stakeholders’ interests. In turn, these stakeholders provide adequate support to ensure the company’s resilience and competitiveness.
Based on Archie Carroll’s theory of corporate social responsibility (CSR), a stakeholder analysis of Harley-Davidson’s corporate responsibility programs shows focus on the company’s contributions to customers’ mobility and community development. In addition, Harley-Davidson’s CSR programs satisfy stakeholders’ interests regarding business sustainability.
Harley-Davidson’s Stakeholder Groups & CSR Initiatives
Based on major issues facing the motorcycle industry, Harley-Davidson’s corporate social responsibility programs target specific interests of stakeholders. Harley-Davidson’s CSR programs prioritize stakeholders groups as follows, arranged according to significance:
- Customers (top-priority stakeholders)
Customers. Harley-Davidson gives top priority to its customers as a major stakeholder group. The company’s corporate social responsibility programs are focused on ensuring that these stakeholders’ interests and expectations on quality, design, and craftsmanship are met. Customers are significant stakeholders because they directly determine Harley-Davidson’s sales revenues and profitability. This influence leads the company to implement corporate social responsibility strategies and programs that satisfy customers’ interests. For example, Harley-Davidson uses its dealerships to obtain feedback from customers about their preferences and experiences. Such information is used in designing H-D motorcycles.
Communities. This stakeholder group is interested in Harley-Davidson’s contributions to community development. Communities are significant stakeholders because they affect the company’s reputation and brand image. The company’s corporate social responsibility programs aim to support these interests about community development. For example, the Harley-Davidson Foundation works with charitable organizations for goals in improving education and health. In addition, the company’s Supplier Diversity policy supports minority-owned and female-owned suppliers.
Environmentalists. Harley-Davidson has become increasingly sensitive toward the interests of environmentalists as a stakeholder group. These stakeholders are significant because they push businesses to contribute to environmental protection and conservation. The Harley-Davidson Foundation partly addresses these interests. For example, the Foundation gives financial support to charitable organizations that have environmental conservation programs. As part of its corporate social responsibility efforts, Harley-Davidson also has a sustainability strategy where the company maintains partnerships with organizations like The Nature Conservancy to support environmental conservation. Moreover, Harley-Davidson implements new technologies to ensure optimal efficiency and to minimize the environmental impact of its business.
Suppliers. Harley-Davidson’s suppliers are significant stakeholders that influence the company’s production capacity and corporate social responsibility programs. This stakeholder group determines the availability of materials that the company uses to manufacture its motorcycles. The interests of suppliers include continued and stable partnership with Harley-Davidson. The company addresses these stakeholders’ interests to ensure business resilience and adequate production capacity. For example, Harley-Davidson’s Supplier Diversity policy includes maximizing support for a wide variety of suppliers instead of focusing on just a few big ones. In this corporate social responsibility strategy, small community-based suppliers benefit through partnerships with Harley-Davidson.
Employees. Employees are significant stakeholders because they influence Harley-Davidson’s output quality and capacity. The interests of this stakeholder group include fair treatment and career opportunities. Harley-Davidson’s corporate social responsibility strategy addresses these interests through employment policies and programs based on the company’s core values (e.g. Respect the Individual, Encourage Intellectual Curiosity) and expected behaviors (e.g. teamwork, creativity, and diversity). The Harley-Davidson Foundation also promotes employee involvement in outreach programs to improve employee morale.
Harley-Davidson’s CSR Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests
Harley-Davidson’s business resilience is partly based on the success of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy and programs. The company understands the importance of stakeholders and their impact on the business. For example, Harley-Davidson’s Supplier Diversity Policy helps promote inclusive development of communities. The company also prioritizes the interests of customers as a major stakeholder group. This prioritization enables the firm to effectively satisfy the preferences and expectations of its target market. Harley-Davidson’s corporate social responsibility programs are satisfactory in addressing stakeholders’ interests and supporting long-term business success.
- Ditlev-Simonsen, C. D., & Wenstop, F. (2013). How stakeholders view stakeholders as CSR motivators. Social Responsibility Journal, 9(1), 137-147.
- Harley-Davidson Foundation.
- Harley-Davidson Inc., Form DEF 14A.
- Miles, M. P., Munilla, L. S., & Darroch, J. (2006). The role of strategic conversations with stakeholders in the formation of corporate social responsibility strategy. Journal of Business Ethics, 69(2), 195-205.
- Pater, A., & Van Lierop, K. (2006). Sense and sensitivity: the roles of organisation and stakeholders in managing corporate social responsibility. Business Ethics: A European Review, 15(4), 339-351.
- Sustainability at Harley-Davidson USA.
- Vos, J. F. (2003). Corporate social responsibility and the identification of stakeholders. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management,10(3), 141-152.