Social Responsibility in Higher Educational Institutions: An Exploratory Study

Part of the Approaches to Global Sustainability, Markets, and Governance book series (AGSMG)


The practice of social responsibility does not limit only to corporations, companies or NGOs, universities are also responsible for all the impacts that cause their operations towards their publics, the society at large and the environment. University social responsibility (USR) is a recent concept and practice developed in Hispanic America which has not been explored and studied extensively in other parts of the world (Nejati et al. 2011; Gomez and Vargas-Preciado 2013). USR differs from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) because it presents specific impacts, which are related to learning and research production that only concerns to educational institutions. This chapter has the purpose to identify and analyze social responsibility attitudes and perceptions among some internal publics of a private university in Puerto Rico. This exploratory study takes into consideration the methodology of Vallaeys et al. (2009), which published the first guideline for advising universities in engaging in social responsibility practices. On one hand, educational impacts refer to the process of teaching–learning and how the curriculum is developed. On the other hand, cognitive impacts include all the theoretical approaches, research lines and production and dissemination of knowledge and how it contributes to the quality of life of society. This study uses a quantitative methodology, through the implementation of surveys to identify internal public perceptions and attitudes. Surveys were administered among the most important internal group of publics of universities: students. The sample consists of 356 students and has an error margin of 5% and confidence level of 95%. Higher educational institutions are a key organizational citizen in the promotion of social responsibility and sustainable development among future professionals. The practice of USR centres in a mutual relationship between universities and its internal and external publics. Internal publics are important pieces in a responsible learning process that includes the involvement of external publics like local communities, government, alumni. In other words, curriculum, learning, teaching and research are improved thanks to the feedback and involvement of external publics. This is fundamental because universities must contribute in the sustainable development of society, improving the quality of life of all the publics they served.


University social responsibility Higher education institutions Knowledge management Puerto Rico Transparency 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad del Este (University of the East)CarolinaPuerto Rico
  2. 2.Johaness Kepler UniversityLinzAustria

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