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SMEs and the fallacy of formalising CSR

Yves Fassin UGent (2008) BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW. 17(4). p.364-378
abstract
There exists increasing pressure for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, including social reporting. Curiously in this promotional programme of CSR reporting, the only group whose ideas are not sought in this debate are the SME leaders themselves. The present ethnographic field analysis, based on discussions within entrepreneurs' circles, tends to suggest that the argument for expanding formalisation of CSR to SMEs rests upon several fallacies. It implicitly assumes that an apparent solution for large multinationals can be transposed to SMEs, and it underestimates the drawbacks of bureaucracy. Moreover, many SMEs experience inconsistency between the idealistic CSR communication of some large companies and their actions, especially in the supply chain. The author concludes that reports do not constitute the validation for real CSR, nor the proof of superior ethical behaviour. Formalisation can even be counterproductive. Conversely, the absence of social reporting does not imply that SMEs do not behave responsible. CSR in SMEs needs a specific approach, adapted to the informal nature and entrepreneurial character of the small business. The essence of CSR lies in the implementation of responsible business practices. It lies in the right attitudes, in the corporate culture, not in formalisation.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
journal title
BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW
Bus. Ethics
volume
17
issue
4
pages
364 - 378
publisher
Blackwell
place of publication
Oxford
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000207658900002
ISSN
0962-8770
1467-8608
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-8608.2008.00540.x
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
VABB id
c:vabb:209396
VABB type
VABB-1
id
667542
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-667542
date created
2009-05-27 08:51:17
date last changed
2016-05-12 15:18:40
@article{667542,
  abstract     = {There exists increasing pressure for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, including social reporting. Curiously in this promotional programme of CSR reporting, the only group whose ideas are not sought in this debate are the SME leaders themselves. The present ethnographic field analysis, based on discussions within entrepreneurs' circles, tends to suggest that the argument for expanding formalisation of CSR to SMEs rests upon several fallacies. It implicitly assumes that an apparent solution for large multinationals can be transposed to SMEs, and it underestimates the drawbacks of bureaucracy. Moreover, many SMEs experience inconsistency between the idealistic CSR communication of some large companies and their actions, especially in the supply chain. The author concludes that reports do not constitute the validation for real CSR, nor the proof of superior ethical behaviour. Formalisation can even be counterproductive. Conversely, the absence of social reporting does not imply that SMEs do not behave responsible. CSR in SMEs needs a specific approach, adapted to the informal nature and entrepreneurial character of the small business. The essence of CSR lies in the implementation of responsible business practices. It lies in the right attitudes, in the corporate culture, not in formalisation.},
  author       = {Fassin, Yves},
  issn         = {0962-8770},
  journal      = {BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {364--378},
  publisher    = {Blackwell},
  title        = {SMEs and the fallacy of formalising CSR},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8608.2008.00540.x},
  volume       = {17},
  year         = {2008},
}

Chicago
Fassin, Yves. 2008. “SMEs and the Fallacy of Formalising CSR.” Business Ethics : A European Review 17 (4): 364–378.
APA
Fassin, Y. (2008). SMEs and the fallacy of formalising CSR. BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW, 17(4), 364–378.
Vancouver
1.
Fassin Y. SMEs and the fallacy of formalising CSR. BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW. Oxford: Blackwell; 2008;17(4):364–78.
MLA
Fassin, Yves. “SMEs and the Fallacy of Formalising CSR.” BUSINESS ETHICS : A EUROPEAN REVIEW 17.4 (2008): 364–378. Print.