On the resilience of corporate social responsibility

Harwood, I.A., Humby, S. and Harwood, A (2011) On the resilience of corporate social responsibility European Management Journal, 29, (4), pp. 283-290.


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Given that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), by definition, is a voluntary activity, there has been speculation as to how resilient such activities are, particularly in times of economic constraint. In 2008, Mallen Baker administered a simple online voting poll which resulted in the majority of respondents predicting either cutting back or stopping CSR activities in response to extended economic recession. This study now aims to garner detailed views across a range of UK organisations in order to assess the resilience of their CSR activities together with capturing the key drivers behind their intentions.

A survey approach has been adopted, with responses gained from 121 members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, all of whom were senior executives, directors or managers. Results show that the most common reason for undertaking CSR was “it’s just the right thing to do”, indicating relational and moral motives that go beyond pure instrumentalism, although compliance to regulation is also a factor.

70.3% of respondents were content with their organisation’s current levels of CSR activity and 29.7% felt that they were doing too little CSR. Over the next five years, 90.8% of respondents predicted an increase in environmentally responsible activity and 88.3% predicted an increase in socially responsible actions (within which a significant number were forecasting a substantial increase). Various drivers behind this forecast increase in CSR activity are given. This study therefore finds that CSR appears to be a more resilient concept than some previous reports have suggested.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0263-2373 (print)
ePrint ID: 180801
Date :
Date Event
August 2011Published
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2011 08:08
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 02:30
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/180801

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