While the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of small firms have been analysed to some extent, their engagement in international networks relating to CSR is less understood. Most of these networks primarily address the needs of multinational corporations. Surprisingly, however, the number of small firms participating in such institutions has substantially increased over recent years. But what is the reason for this new interest of SMEs in institutional forms of CSR?
Based on a qualitative empirical study of German small firms’ participation in the most prominent CSR institution, the UN Global Compact, this book explores the drivers for small firms’ participation. The motivations are complex and do not follow the same hierarchical order associated with large business behaviour. Rather, reasons for institutional engagement suggest a heterarchical structure, where alignment is contingent upon factors such as the individual CSR perception, self-conception or social environment.
The book explains why small firms prefer to engage in sustainable development within institutionalized forms of CSR rather than act in isolation, and provides recommendations on how to support and thus increase SME participation in institutionalized forms of civic engagement.
"With CSR having moved from ideology to reality, organizations increasingly make CSR the very heart of their existence. Despite the fact that literature is plentiful with advice on how organizations should design, implement, control, and measure their CSR involvement, unresolved issues still exist, however. Dr. Pia Popal’s new book Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Sustainability examines why German small and medium-sized enterprises engage with international institutions for voluntary self-regulation such as the UN Global Compact. Where research previously has focused on behavior, Dr. Popal’s research focuses on institutionalized practices. Dr. Popal’s book is a most welcome read and offers important contributions to CSR literature. I recommend the book heartedly."
Professor, Dr. Adam Lindgreen, Head of Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School and Extraordinary Professor, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria
Introduction, Aim of Research, Identifying the Research Gap, Structure of Contribution Part I: Defining Terms 1. The SME Definition 2. Quantitative Characteristics 3. Qualitative Characteristics 4. The many Concepts of CSR 5. Semantic Differences 6. Classical Definitions 7. Critical Voices 8. Voluntary Aspects of CSR 9. International Applicability of the Concept 10. CSR as a Business Strategy 11. CSR as an Institution 12. CSR in the SME Context 13. Private Actors and CSR in Germany Part II: The UN Global Compact 14. Historical Development of the UN Global Compact 15. Aim of the UN Global Compact 16. The German UN Global Compact Network and German SME Part III: Research Process 17. Research Design 18. The Role of Theory 19. Method 20. Data Collection 21. Data Analysis Part IV: Central Assumptions Derived from Institutional Theory 22. Instrumental Elements of Institutions 23. Informational Gain 24. Coercive Pressure Exerted by Larger Corporations 25. Competitive Advantage 26. Cultural-Cognitive Elements of Institutions 27. The Role of Social Legitimacy 28. Sector-Specific Behaviour 29. Normative Elements of Institutions 30. Internalisation of Norms and Values 31. Variations of Institutional Theory as a Response to Critical Voices Part V: Empirical Findings 32. Instrumental Motives for Engagement 33. Increase Visibility 34. Competition 35. Demonstrate Product or Service Quality 36. Informational Gain 37. Coercion 38. Social Elements of Engagement 39. Legitimacy 40. Sector-Specific Behaviour 41. Normative Elements of Engagement 42. Orientation for Structure 43. Internalisation of Guidelines 44. Pro-Active Engagement 45. Revision of Certain Aspects in the Findings 46. Global Elements of Engagement 47. Voluntary Self-Regulation 48. Occurrence of Motives in Different SME and Response Pattern Part VI: Concluding Remarks