The purpose of this paper is to address issues of practicing social responsibility (SR) in small business, where SR implementation challenges are unique. The discussion examines the difficulties encountered by small business owners adopting SR practices, and the various strategies they learned in the process.
A total of 23 small business owner‐managers located in Western Canada were interviewed in‐depth, individually, and in groups. Group interviews were useful for validating and extending the themes and contradictions that arose in individual interviews, particularly in identifying the most common SR challenges and frustrations, and to compare individuals' learning patterns and diverse strategies of response.
The paper findings show that owners learned SR by working through three main areas of challenge within everyday sociomaterial practices: positioning SR commitments and affiliations; balancing diverse stakeholders with SR ideals and costs; and negotiating value conflicts within SR practice, as part of “becoming” a particular enterprise of SR engagement.
The paper suggests that SR may be most fruitfully studied by examining the traces of the networks, linkages, and boundaries formulated through everyday interactions, focusing not just on the social networks and information exchange among humans, but more deeply on the sociomaterial networks within which new practices such as SR emerge. Second, the paper underscores the importance of conceptualizing SR “learning” more in terms of practices that emerge through challenge and conflict than in acquisition and application of new knowledge and attitudes.
Fenwick, T. (2010), "Learning to practice social responsibility in small business: challenges and conflicts", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 149-169. https://doi.org/10.1108/20412561011039753Download as .RIS
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