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The value and significance of corporate community relations: an Italian SME perspective

Maria Palazzo (Department of Political, Social and Communication Studies, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Pantea Foroudi (Business School, Middlesex University, London, UK)
Alfonso Siano (Department of Political, Social and Communication Studies, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Philip J. Kitchen (Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, UK and Business School, Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 13 November 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the link between community of place and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Lombard industrial districts in Italy.

Design/methodology/approach

A brief literature review of international authors from the stakeholder approach and Corporate Community Relations (CCRs) field is presented. This paper refers to a survey of Lombard industrial districts conducted by ALTIS. The data were collected via a telephone survey from 834 firms.

Findings

The main finding is that managing CCRs is of major importance for company success. The results of the survey show that there are some tools and actions that Italian industrial district SMEs use to interact with their particular communities of place to develop effective and coherent relationships with their stakeholder groups. Moreover, although the survey shows that though SMEs do implement different CCR activities, they are not able to communicate these effectively through systematic communication strategies. However, the narrow sample includes only a sample of some Lombard districts. Nonetheless, the findings indicate that effective CCR seems to confer competitive advantage based on stakeholder responses and rewards sought.

Research limitations/implications

The framework could assist in supporting CCR developments between industrial districts as various players would know how to improve CCR activities. One further suggestion is that University and Research Centers could have a role to play in creating and communicating codified knowledge concerning community relations in industrial districts, while other public players still have to develop specific tasks in improving infrastructures.

Originality/value

This study is in line with the main focus of CCR, which is in striving to meet stakeholder and societal needs. However, industrial district SMEs have to learn how to communicate their CCR activities from the examples set by large Italian companies. The paper links the notion of CCR with tools and actions to develop meaningful relationships with both community of place and interest. Moreover, considering the survey results, a new framework for local player roles is proposed.

Keywords

Citation

Palazzo, M., Foroudi, P., Siano, A. and Kitchen, P.J. (2017), "The value and significance of corporate community relations: an Italian SME perspective", The Bottom Line, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 330-344. https://doi.org/10.1108/BL-08-2017-0019

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited