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Motivations of undertaking CSR initiatives by independent hotels: a holistic approach

Vahideh Abaeian (Taylor’s Business School, Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia)
Kok Wei Khong (Taylor’s Business School, Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia)
Ken Kyid Yeoh (Business School, University of Nottingham, Semenyih, Malaysia)
Scott McCabe (Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 12 February 2019

Issue publication date: 4 September 2019




The purpose of this study is to explore how senior managers of independent hotels perceive the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) through a holistic analysis of motivations of undertaking both social and environmental initiatives.


This study conducts qualitative interviews with 22 Malaysian senior hotel managers together with ethnographic observations.


Emergent themes show that CSR is a dynamic concept involving complex struggles and trade-offs between fulfilling business objectives, paying heed to personal ethical values and considering cultural norms when making decisions regarding the adoption of a range of environmental and social initiatives.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to legitimacy theory by highlighting that in the absence of pressure from key stakeholders for responsible initiatives, managers still proactively engage in CSR initiatives. More surprising still is that they set expectations instead of simply aligning or responding to the key stakeholders’ pre-set demands. Meanwhile, the uniqueness, size and purposeful selection of the sample limit the applicability of the findings to wider geographical and cultural locations.

Practical implications

While Malaysian hotel managers are willing to use CSR practices to demonstrate their commitment to their employees and the local communities where they operate, it is equally important that they utilize other media (such as their websites or social media) for both promotional and legitimacy building purposes. Within the context of growing tourism for economic development, the Malaysian Government can develop more effective strategies, rewards or incentives for encouraging businesses to undertake and improve CSR adoption for sustainability of this industry.


By extending the scope of CSR studies beyond firm performance issues, we attempt to show the wider set of motivations and contexts considered important in determining hotel engagement in CSR programs.



The work on which this article is based was funded by Taylor’s Graduate School PhD Fellowship Program (Scheme 1), Taylor’s University, Lakeside Campus, Malaysia.

Disclosure Statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


Abaeian, V., Khong, K.W., Kyid Yeoh, K. and McCabe, S. (2019), "Motivations of undertaking CSR initiatives by independent hotels: a holistic approach", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 2468-2487.



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