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Bevan, E A M and Yung, P (2015) Implementation of corporate social responsibility in Australian construction SMEs. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 22(03), 295-311.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: Australia; small to medium-sized enterprises; ethics; construction industry; environmental management; corporate strategy
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-05-2014-0071
  • Abstract:
    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) related activities in small to medium sized construction enterprises within Australia. Reasons behind the implementation level are also evaluated. Design/methodology/approach - Quantitative and qualitative company level data from 28 Australian small to medium sized construction enterprises were collected using an in-depth questionnaire. Levels of CSR implementation in three aspects, namely, environmental, social and ethical, were measured. Each aspect was broken down into sub-areas and implementation scores were aggregated and normalised. Awareness level and concern for economic aspect, the two hypothesised reasons for level of implementation, were also measured. Non-parametric correlation analyses were used to examine the hypotheses. Findings - The findings suggest small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) incorporate some aspects of CSR into their business activities even though they do not refer to the practices as CSR, as none of them have a formal CSR policy in place. Most SMEs in the construction industry implement ethical and economic aspect of CSR; however implementation across environmental and social issues is limited. Non-parametric correlation analyses show that higher awareness of CSR issues leads to higher levels of implementation and that concern about economic aspect is not a reason why CSR is not implemented into business practices. Research limitations/implications - Everett Rogers’ diffusion paradigm can also be applied to CSR implementation, but more research works are required to theoretically and empirically examine the relationships between CSR implementation and economic aspect. Originality/value - It is apparent that there is a significant gap in the research regarding Australian SMEs and sustainability issues as the majority of the literature is focused upon large organisations even though the approaches taken by SMEs towards CSR are very different to those of large corporations. The SME business sector is a significant sector in terms of its environmental, economic and social impacts. Hence recognition of this sector is growing and is now becoming the focus of an agenda to promote the implementation of CSR practices in SMEs. This paper aims to provide useful and detailed information to add to what is currently an underdeveloped body of knowledge in this area.