AbstractAs human beings, we cannot avoid the implications of non-sustainable programmes, activities or lifestyles by just ignoring them. Thus, sustainable development (SD) becomes everyone’s business. However, there is a belief – especially in developing economies – that SD is the responsibility of the government and/or large businesses. Nevertheless, things are shifting to emphasise the growing responsibility of everyone, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who broadly contribute towards the SD agenda by engaging with corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Wider stakeholders in developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa are also beginning to actively engage with the sustainability notion. As a result, businesses especially SMEs, are faced with the need to respond to stakeholder demands for inclusive SME models that go beyond traditional CSR practices to alternatives that form synergies between themselves and SD goals. Worse still, the CSR research is fragmentary, and SMEs’ CSR engagement and contributions towards SD goals tend to go unnoticed, as more focus is put on large corporations (Smith and Thompson, 1991), despite SMEs’ undisputed economic importance.
Using a form of analytic induction to evaluate qualitative case-study data from the SME perspective, this research project addresses this gap in the literature with the question: ‘What is the SME/CSR role and opportunity in addressing sustainability challenges in sub-Saharan African economies?’ In such a weak and ambiguously regulated environment, the research endeavours to bridge the gap between SME/CSR research and stakeholders by exploring SMEs’ CSR understanding, drivers and nature, and how their engagement in CSR might contribute to SD.
The research findings show that SME owner-managers’ CSR understandings are skewed towards solving societal development challenges. The study offers evidence that the firm’s size does not necessarily determine the context, nature and extent to which it engages with CSR, and thus contribute towards SD. The research contributes to knowledge by suggesting an alternative Stakeholder Engagement Framework (SHEF) and Co-productive Stakeholder Engagement Model (CPSEM) through which SMEs can co-produce solutions to global development challenges by achieving more, for more, with less.
|Date of Award||May 2013|
|Supervisor||Cheryl Rodgers (Supervisor)|