اثر فشار خریدار بر تامین کنندگان در شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط برای نشان دادن شیوه CSR(مسئولیت اجتماعی شرکت ها): پاداش افزوده یا تولید متقابل ؟
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 27, Issue 6, December 2009, Pages 429–441
Those promoting the corporate social responsibility agenda to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are interested in the potential of supply chain drivers as an incentive. This paper presents results from an empirical study into the attitudes and behaviours of 103 UK SME owner/managers in response to buyer pressure to demonstrate CSR activities. Most said that the inclusion of social and environmental requirements as preconditions to supply would increase their motivation to engage in CSR (82% for environmental criteria and 55% for social criteria). However, a quarter would be put off tendering and 12% thought that such criteria would be counter productive.
Society’s expectation of business is changing as the power of national governments lessens with increasing globalisation. Companies now are not only expected to be responsible to their shareholders but to society in general. In the business world, this has been reflected in the increasing importance given to corporate social responsibility (CSR). To date, most of the attention has been focussed on large companies and multinational corporations (MNCs). Most of the companies listed on the FTSE Global 500 index make some reference to CSR or related concepts such as corporate citizenship or sustainable development in their corporate publications. However, SMEs account for 99.8% of European enterprises, 66% of total employment and half of the total value added in the EU (European Commission, 2003). It has been estimated that SMEs have a greater environmental impact per unit than large firms and are the largest contributors to pollution, carbon dioxide emissions and commercial waste (Environment Agency, 2003). Attention is thus beginning to be paid to ways in which SMEs can be encouraged to engage in the CSR agenda. One means of doing so is through supply chain pressure, whereby large organisations specify CSR criteria either as a precondition for tendering to supply, or as a variable to be considered in the purchasing decision alongside value-for-money. While there is evidence that such supply chain drivers towards CSR are increasing, there is little data on how this is being perceived by the SME suppliers themselves, or whether such an approach is successful. Our research aims to address this gap by exploring to what extent supply chain pressure on SMEs to engage in CSR is achieving its goal. Does such pressure increase motivation to engage in CSR, or can it be counter productive? In this paper, we briefly discuss the pros and cons of various means of promoting CSR in SMEs, in the context of the particular challenges posed by the distinctive nature of SMEs. We focus on the role of supply chain pressure in this endeavour, and present existing research that may contribute towards an appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. Relevant psychological theory is introduced to more fully understand how such external pressures to engage in CSR may affect the individual motivations and responses of SME owner/managers. We then present the results of our research into the attitudes of UK SME owner/managers to the inclusion of CSR criteria into the procurement strategies of their business-to-business customers. This entailed some preliminary insights gained through semi-structured interviews with 25 SME owner/managers which then informed the design of an online survey completed by 103 SME owner/managers.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
It appears that buyer pressure to engage in CSR would act as an additional incentive in the majority of cases. About two-thirds of respondents agreed it would act as an incentive to make suppliers more responsible, particularly in the case of environmental criteria, which suggests supply chain pressure to encourage SMEs to engage in CSR would be an effective strategy. However, the results also demonstrate that the concerns raised in the introduction to the paper are not unfounded. There is some support for the contention that incorporation of CSR criteria into procurement strategies may competitively disadvantage small businesses. A quarter of SME owner/managers agreed strongly/slightly with the statement: “it would put me off tendering/reduce my willingness to supply”. A significant minority would engage in misleading box-ticking (up to a third) or would find it counter productive (11%), or believe it would reduce their motivation to engage in CSR (2% for environmental criteria, 7% for social criteria). In common with most of the prior research, our results confirm SMEs’ dislike of bureaucracy. Approximately half the respondents agreed that they would be annoyed at the extra bureaucracy related to the inclusion of CSR criteria into buyer policies. Even among the 82% who said they would be happy to comply with environmental criteria, 40% would still be irked by the bureaucracy. Our results support the contention that engagement in CSR by SMEs is predominantly motivated by SME owner/managers’ values rather than by extrinsic rewards. Personal values scored highly as an extra benefit to being environmentally responsible (78% said yes/probably) which came second only to company reputation (87%). It was also clear that owner/managers of SMEs are the main driver of engagement with CSR. These results support the view that intrinsic motivation is a key driver towards responsible business. The result that is of most concern in this context is that 33% thought that imposed standards would set lower standards then they would set for themselves, providing a clear indication of the ceiling effect. Thus we suggest that one way to benefit from the extra incentive provided by buyer pressure to engage in CSR, while avoiding the pitfalls discussed, would be to allow companies to describe their achievements in CSR in their own words rather than via a tick-box approach. If it is made clear that SMEs’ achievements in this area will count in the final decision-making process i.e. the buyer would not go ahead and order on value-for-money variables regardless, then the SME can take pride in its achievements knowing that it is a case of ‘the more the better’. With this method, the belief that the SMEs’ CSR efforts will increase their chances of gaining custom from large organisations would operate synergistically with intrinsic motivations, rather than undermine them. We acknowledge that a more qualitative approach to assessing CSR-type criteria will make it more difficult for buyers to quickly and easily compare SMEs on criteria. Nevertheless, from the research we have undertaken, our view is that a tick-box approach not only fails to capture the idiosyncratic, informal and diverse engagement in CSR by the SMEs involved, but also evokes cynicism and resentment among many SMEs. This is unlikely to be conducive to genuine engagement. The quotes presented in the results section give an idea of the flavour of feeling on this issue. One solution has been the use of certifications such as ISO14001 and Investors in People that are able to reflect the diverse nature of SMEs. However this pushes the same issue further down the chain, in the sense that, to what extent do the assessors of these certificates accept a quick and easy tick-box approach, or capture genuine engagement? We did not specifically ask about experience of such schemes, but cynical comments given regarding Investors in People lead us to believe that such issues are still present in the context of some SMEs. We asked in the introduction whether supply chain pressure can be seen as the middle way between voluntary engagement and regulation, and if so, can it provide the best of both worlds, or the worst? Our results demonstrate that such pressure is seen by the SMEs in the same light as regulation, and that, although they agree it acts as an incentive, they themselves believe that the best way they can be encouraged to be socially and environmentally responsible is through their own voluntary efforts. Whether or not it is the best or worst of both worlds therefore will depend upon how such supply chain pressure is exerted. There is a danger that in formalising processes for the convenience of buyers, we become guilty of measuring what is easy to measure, rather than what is worthwhile. The parable of the person who lost their keys on a dark street, who searches for them under a lamppost, which is not where they are to be found, but is the only place where there is enough light for searching, has relevance here. In other words, there is little point in wasting the SMEs’ or the buyers’ time by processes that, while they may be easy to administer and deal with, fail to capture or achieve their original aim. We would therefore make the case that incorporating CSR criteria into procurement decisions should be done comprehensively or not at all. For this to happen, SMEs need to believe that genuine CSR engagement will actually affect their chances of success in their tender for business, and that it is not just a case of meeting minimum standards, but a case of their particular and idiosyncratic efforts being recognised and rewarded. This will take time and commitment from the buyers. It will not make their job easier and of course requires a genuine, rather than superficial, attention to issues of CSR in the supply chain; not just from the SMEs, but from the buyers and those who set the parameters for the buyers in the first place. It would be of interest in further research to focus more specifically on how the values of SME owner/managers may affect how they would respond to buyer pressure to engage in CSR. For example, if those SMEs who were put off by such criteria were those who were already engaging with CSR, then the danger of these external rewards for engaging in CSR undermining intrinsic motivation to engage in CSR is high. If, on the other hand, it is only those who have no interest in CSR who are deterred, then there is nothing to be lost by the addition of such criteria to procurement decisions. Although this survey did not specifically take a measure of willingness to engage with CSR, an analysis of the voluntary comments of those respondents who indicated that such criteria would be ‘counter productive’ suggests that at least some of them thought of themselves as responsible businesses.