Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 385–400 | Cite as

Corporate Social Responsibility in SMEs: A Shift from Philanthropy to Institutional Works?

  • Kenneth Amaeshi
  • Emmanuel Adegbite
  • Chris Ogbechie
  • Uwafiokun Idemudia
  • Konan Anderson Seny Kan
  • Mabumba Issa
  • Obianuju I. J. Anakwue


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) amongst Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is often characterised in the literature as unstructured, informal and ad hoc discretionary philanthropic activities. Drawing insights from recent theoretical/analytical frameworks (i.e. Crane et al., in Corporate social responsibility: Readings and cases in a global context, 2013; and Valente and Crane, in Calif Manag Rev 52(3):52–78, 2010), and on empirical data collected from both Nigeria and Tanzania, we found that CSR practices in SMEs are much more nuanced than previously presented. In addition, SMEs undertake their CSR practices to varying degrees in multiple spaces—i.e. the workplace, marketplace, community and the ecological environment. These CSR practices go beyond philanthropy and in some instances involve institutional works aimed at addressing some of the institutional gaps in the environments where these SMEs operate. The paper makes a contribution by drawing attention to the multiple spaces of CSR practices amongst SMEs, and the institutional works they do, which are often taken for granted in the extant literature. We provide a unique perspective—by arguing that what is frequently conceptualised as philanthropic CSR in Africa is (or may include) ‘institutional works’.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Nigeria Tanzania Sub-Saharan Africa SMEs Institutional works 



We wish to thank Chinedu Okoro, Cosmas Okeke, and Godson Ikiebey at the Lagos Business School, Nigeria for their data collection assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Amaeshi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Emmanuel Adegbite
    • 4
  • Chris Ogbechie
    • 3
  • Uwafiokun Idemudia
    • 5
  • Konan Anderson Seny Kan
    • 6
  • Mabumba Issa
    • 8
  • Obianuju I. J. Anakwue
    • 7
  1. 1.University of Edinburgh Business SchoolEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Cranfield School of ManagementBedfordUK
  3. 3.Lagos Business SchoolLagosNigeria
  4. 4.Durham University Business SchoolDurhamUK
  5. 5.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Toulouse Business SchoolToulouseFrance
  7. 7.First BankLagosNigeria
  8. 8.Abax Corporate Services Ltd.EbèneMauritius

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