Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 85, Supplement 2, pp 339–353 | Cite as

Formal vs. Informal CSR Strategies: Evidence from Italian Micro, Small, Medium-sized, and Large Firms

Article

Abstract

Recent research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) suggests the need for further exploration into the relationship between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and CSR. SMEs rarely use the language of CSR to describe their activities, but informal CSR strategies play a large part in them. The goal of this article is to investigate whether differences exist between the formal and informal CSR strategies through which firms manage relations with and the claims of their stakeholders. In this context, formal CSR strategies seem to characterize large firms while informal CSR strategies prevail among micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. We use a sample of 3,626 Italian firms to investigate our research questions. Based on a multi-stakeholder framework, the analysis provides evidence that small businesses’ use of CSR, involving strategies with an important impact on the bottom line, reflects an attempt to secure their license to operate in the communities; while large firms rarely make attempts to integrate their CSR strategies into explicit management systems.

Keywords

CSR strategies Italy large firms micro firms multi-stakeholder approach small and medium-sized enterprises 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adler P., S.-W. Kwon 2002 Social Capital: Prospects for a New Concept. Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Besser T. L. 1999 Community Involvement and the Perception of Success Among Small Business Operators in Small Towns. Journal of Small Business Management, 37(4), 16–30Google Scholar
  3. Brugmann J., C. K. Prahalad 2007 Cocreating Business’s New Social Compact. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 80–90Google Scholar
  4. Crane A., D. Matten 2007, Business Ethics, 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  5. De Geer H. 2002. Business and Society. In: L. Zsolnai (ed) Ethics in the Economy. Handbook of Business Ethics. Peter Lang, Bern, Switzerland, pp. 59–80Google Scholar
  6. Donaldson T., L. E. Preston 1995 The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications. Academy of Management Review 20(1), 65–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. European Commission 2003, SMEs in Europe 2003. Enterprise Publications, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  8. European Commission 2007, Opportunity and Responsibility. How to Help More Small Businesses to Integrate Social and Environmental Issues into What They Do. European Commission, Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  9. Figge F., S. Schaltegger 2000 What is “Stakeholder Value”? Developing a Catchphrase into a Benchmarking Tool. Universität Lüneburg-Pictet-UNEP, Lüneburg, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  10. Freeman E. R. 1984, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Pitman, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  11. Graafland J., B. van de Ven, N. Stoffele 2003 Strategies and Instruments for Organising CSR by Small and Large Businesses in the Netherlands. Journal of Business Ethics 47(1), 45–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grayson D. 2004, How CSR Contribute to the Competitiveness of Europe in a More Sustainable World. The World Bank Institute and the CSR Resource Centre, Netherlands, pp 1–5Google Scholar
  13. Habisch A., H. P. Meister, R. Schmidpeter 2001, Corporate Citizenship as Investing in Social Capital. Logos-Verlag, Berlin, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  14. ISTAT 2001 8° Censimento Generale dell’industria e dei Servizi 2001. Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  15. Jenkins H. 2004 A Critique of Conventional CSR Theory: An SME Perspective. Journal of General Management 29(4), 37–57Google Scholar
  16. Kaptein M., J. Wempe 2002, The Balanced Company: A Theory of Corporate Integrity. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Kotler P., N. Lee 2005, Corporate Social Responsibility. Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJGoogle Scholar
  18. Mangelsdorf D. 1999 Evolution from Quality Management to an Integrative Management System Based on TQM and Its Impact on the Profession of Quality Managers in Industry. The TQM Magazine 11(6), 419–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Molteni M., M. Lucchini 2004 I Modelli di Responsabilità Sociale nelle Imprese Italiane. Franco Angeli, Milan, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  20. Perrini F. 2006a SMEs and CSR Theory: Evidence and Implications from an Italian Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics 67(3), 305–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Perrini F. 2006b The Practitioner’s Perspective on Non-Financial Reporting. California Management Review 48(2), 73–103Google Scholar
  22. Perrini F., S. Pogutz, A. Tencati 2006 Corporate Social Responsibility in Italy: State of the Art. Journal of Business Strategies 23(1), 65–91Google Scholar
  23. Perrini F., A. Russo, A. Tencati 2007 CSR Strategies of SMEs and Large Firms. Evidence from Italy. Journal of Business Ethics 74(3), 285–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Putnam R. 1993, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, NJGoogle Scholar
  25. Putnam R. 2000, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon and Schuster, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  26. Pyke F., G. Becattini, W. Sengenberger 1990, Industrial Districts and Inter-Firm Co-operation in Italy. International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  27. Soppe A. 2002. Ethical Theory of the Firm. In: L. Zsolnai (ed) Ethics in the Economy. Handbook of Business Ethics. Peter Lang, Bern, Switzerland, pp 81–103Google Scholar
  28. Spence L. J. 1999 Does Size Matter? The State of the Art in Small Business Ethics. Business Ethics: A European Review 8(3), 163–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Spence L. J., A. Habisch, R. Schmidpeter 2004, Responsibility and Social Capital: The World of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK/New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  30. Spence L. J., R. Jeurissen, R. Rutherfoord 2000 Small Business and the Environment in the UK and the Netherlands: Toward Stakeholder Cooperation. Business Ethics Quarterly 10(4), 945–965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Spence L. J., J. F. Lozano 2000 Communicating About Ethics with Small Firms: Experiences from the U.K. And Spain. Journal of Business Ethics 27(1), 43–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Spence L. J., R. Rutherfoord: 2003 Small Business and Empirical Perspectives in Business Ethics: Editorial. Journal of Business Ethics 47(1), 1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Spence L. J., R. Schmidpeter, A. Habisch 2003 Assessing Social Capital: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Germany and the UK. Journal of Business Ethics 47(1), 17–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. St. John E. P. 1980 Management System Development: An Intervention Model for Developing Colleges and Universities. The Journal of Higher Education 51(3), 285–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tencati A., F. Perrini, S. Pogutz 2004 New Tools to Foster Corporate Socially Responsible Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics 53(1–2), 173–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thompson J. K., H. L. Smith 1991 Social Responsibility and Small Business: Suggestions for Research. Journal of Small Business Management 29(aaaJanuary), 30–44Google Scholar
  37. Tilley F. 2000 Small Firm Environmental Ethics: How Deep Do They go? Business Ethics: A European Review 9(1), 31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vyakarnam S., A. Bailey, A. Myers, D. Burnett 1997 Towards an Understanding of Ethical Behaviour in Small Firms. Journal of Business Ethics 16(15), 1625–1636CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management – CSR Unit, Institute of StrategyBocconi UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Management – CSR Unit, Institute of Technology and Innovation ManagementBocconi UniversityMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations