Article

Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 257-273

Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review

  • Jan LepoutreAffiliated withDepartment of Management and Entrepreneurshipm, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University Email author 
  • , Aimé HeeneAffiliated withDepartment of Management and Entrepreneurshipm, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

The impact of smaller firm size on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is ambiguous. Some contend that small businesses are socially responsible by nature, while others argue that a smaller firm size imposes barriers on small firms that constrain their ability to take responsible action. This paper critically analyses recent theoretical and empirical contributions on the size–social responsibility relationship among small businesses. More specifically, it reviews the impact of firm size on four antecedents of business behaviour: issue characteristics, personal characteristics, organizational characteristics and context characteristics. It concludes that the small business context does impose barriers on social responsibility taking, but that the impact of the smaller firm size on social responsibility should be nuanced depending on a number of conditions. From a critical analysis of these conditions, opportunities for small businesses and their constituents to overcome the constraining barriers are suggested.

Keywords

small business social responsibility CSR SMEs small business entrepreneurship shared responsibility