Corporate Social Responsibility of SMEs during Times of Turbulence: - A Case Study of Small and Medium-sized Exporters in a Changing Environment
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
The increased globalization has brought increased interdependency between countries as well as markets. The 2007 financial crisis impacted companies on a global scale and the need for companies to be socially responsible has increased. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can build reputation and lead to societal and competitive advantage, which can be especially useful for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) with limited resources. CSR has traditionally been the domain of multinational corporations and little is known about CSR in SMEs. Recent research shows mixed results of how the financial crisis has affected CSR strategies. The purpose of this study is to explore how stakeholders‟ issues and CSR strategies change during times of market turbulence and SMEs conform to the changes of the internal and external environment. This was studied through a qualitative case study of three Swedish exporting SMEs and their key stakeholders. Interviews with managing directors of the companies and key stakeholders together with secondary data constitute the gathered empirical data. Key stakeholders, key issues, legitimacy with stakeholders, company matching with the external environment and the CSR strategy, as well as changes during crisis were analyzed based on the empirical data. We found an increased need for CSR activities during times of turbulence. Two companies increased their CSR activities while one decreased the activities. The results of the study indicate that the external environment changes during times of market turbulence and companies need to adapt to the newly shaped environment. CSR activities became more important for some stakeholders during market turbulence. Companies which adapted to the changes of the external environment improved legitimacy with their stakeholders and moved toward enhancing their competitive advantage as well as improved their performance. The study contributes to the knowledge of how SME form CSR strategy as well as how this strategy is changed during times of turbulence. We found CSR strategies of the studied SMEs to be emergent and intuitive, and that CSR strategy changed in a mixed direction during the crisis. Finally, a recommendation is made based on the results. SMEs can strategically use CSR activities in order to develop a competitive advantage through differentiation by a creating societal advantage.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 117 p.
CSR, SMEs, export, crisis, market turbulence, legitimacy, matching strategies, societal advantage, competitive advantage
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-20643OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-20643DiVA: diva2:538994
Subject / course
Business Administration - Marketing
2012-05-29, Ny400, Kalmar, 08:00 (English)
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law
Jansson, Hans, Professor
Hultén, Bertil, Lektor