“Political” Corporate Social Responsibility in Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: A Conceptual Framework

Business and Society 55 (6):792-824 (2016)
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Abstract

“Political” corporate social responsibility involves businesses taking a political role to address “regulatory gaps” caused by weak or insufficient social and environmental standards and norms. The literature on political CSR focuses mostly on how large multinational corporations can address environmental and social problems that arise globally along their supply chains. This article addresses political CSR of small- and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs represent a major share of economic value creation worldwide and are increasingly exposed to regulatory gaps. Although SMEs differ substantially from MNCs in terms of organizational characteristics, behavioral guiding principles, and financial and human resources, they should still tackle such regulatory gaps by accepting a political role. Drawing on Zadek’s model of CSR-based organizational learning and Young’s concept of social connection, this study develops a conceptual framework as the basis for discussing why SMEs should become involved in political CSR, how they can manage political CSR internally and systematically, and how their progress can be assessed by third-party observers externally.

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