ESRC Seminar Series: Comparative perspectives on CSR among SMEs

Middlesex University, Royal Holloway University and Nottingham University (ICCSR) has organized the Seminar entitled “Comparative perspectives on CSR among SMEs” that has been held on 30 April 2014, 11am-5pm, in Middlesex University, Hendon campus, The Barn.

This ESRC-funded seminar symposium has brought together key researchers to consider developed country versus emerging/developing country perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Speakers tried to answer the following question: Are there differences between developed and emerging/developing economies in terms of SME motivations for doing CSR, obstacles to doing CSR, relevant supporting institutions, regulations or cultural traditions?
Speakers have been:
- Dima Jamali (American University of Beirut, Lebanon).
- Søren Jeppesen (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark).
- Bobby Banerjee (Cass Business School, City University London, UK).
- Kenneth Amaeshi (University of Edinburgh, UK).
- Andrea Werner (Middlesex University Business School, UK).
- Cedric Nkiko (freelance sustainability consultant, UK).
A number of themes emerged consistently in this Seminar.  Firstly, the idea of ‘context’was mentioned by every speaker.  It was argued that SMEs should be looking at the context other than the standard Western perspective which continues to be prevalent in SBSR research.  Exploring context in terms of institutional structures and the market; understanding of strong and weak institutional contexts is critical. Secondly, ideas around categorisations were mentioned:-categorisations in terms of types of SMEs in developing countries, andthe types of CSR/SBSR. Thirdly, ideas around organisation and collective activity of SMEs emerged the idea that SMEs are not properly organised in developing countries. Perhaps this might be something that differentiates the developing world perspectives where you would expect trade associations, employee federations or the chambers of commerce to act as representatives on behalf of small businesses and give SMEs a voice. Fourthly, there are common things that exist in the European perspective on small business social responsibility around language understood at multiple levels. For example, attendants learned about the idea of Africapitalism, and the meaning of sustainability being a westernised concept.

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