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Corporate social responsibility disclosure in small and medium-sized entities and large companies

António Dias (Department of Economics, Sociology and Management, Universidade de Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal)
Lúcia Lima Rodrigues (School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal)
Russell Craig (Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Maria Elisabete Neves (ISCAC – Coimbra Business School, Instituto Politecnico de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 2 November 2018

Issue publication date: 22 March 2019




Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) literature has focused mainly on larger firms. Only recently has discussion of the engagement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in CSR emerged in research studies. Here we contribute to that growing discussion of CSR in SMEs by analyzing the disclosure practices of 57 Portuguese companies of different sizes (small, medium, large).


We use stakeholder theory to identify the stakeholders that SMEs and large firms prioritize. By means of thematic content analysis and an index of disclosure (calculated according to company type and stakeholder type) we analyze whether business characteristics influence CSR disclose strategies.


Companies give priority to CSR activities that are directly related to maintaining business and achieving economic results. CSR disclosure practices of SMEs and large companies do not differ significantly. However, larger companies disclose more information on Environment and Society. Companies who are closer to consumers disclose more information on Customers, Community and Society. The act of assuring a CSR report drives system improvements and extended CSR disclosure.

Research limitations/implications

We recognize that it is difficult to compare CSR in Small and large enterprises. For this reason, we have developed a methodology based on the most basic aspects of the CSRD, and therefore applicable without distinction to large and small companies.

Practical implications

A framework to evaluate the CSRD of SMEs was developed. We identify CSR indicators divided in five dimensions (customers, employees, environment, community and society) that are applicable to firms of all sizes.


This study extends knowledge of CSR by comparing the disclosure practices of SMEs and large (listed and un-listed) Portuguese companies. This study takes account of the particularities of SMEs and other fundamental business characteristics using a replicable assessment framework.



Dias, A., Rodrigues, L.L., Craig, R. and Neves, M.E. (2019), "Corporate social responsibility disclosure in small and medium-sized entities and large companies", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 137-154.



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