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Type: Theses
Title: Corporate social responsibility (CSR): tailoring regulation and government policy to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises
Author: Evans, Heath William
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: Adelaide Law School
Abstract: My thesis topic relates to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). It proceeds on the basis of attempting to answer three research questions: Research Question 1: To what extent are SMEs a critical component of the CSR debate? Research Question 2: What are some of the unique characteristics of SMEs which prevent them from engaging in CSR and require a different regulatory approach? Research Question 3: What are the potential regulatory solutions to address the problem of promoting CSR within SMEs? SMEs comprise the vast majority (99%) of businesses in Australia, and as such, contribute extensively to the economy, as well as the negative aspects of business such as pollution, workplace injuries, prosecutions, and so on. Given these contributions, it logically follows that SMEs should be considered in the context of promoting businesses to engage in CSR. It is also clear that SMEs differ quite considerably from the larger publically listed enterprises that are quite frequently envisaged when debating the need for CSR. Given SMEs’ importance to CSR, and their unique characteristics, it is clear that there is a need for solutions to the problem of promoting CSR that are tailored to their unique circumstances, rather than ‘one size fits all’ solutions that presupposes SMEs operate in the same fashion as large enterprises. This thesis traverses corporate history, as well as the history of CSR, noting the academic debates and pointing to the fact that research on CSR within SMEs is a quite recent development. It considers theoretical perspectives of the corporation (for example, shareholder primacy versus stakeholder theory) and on regulatory techniques (for example, command and control regulation versus responsive regulation). The thesis extensively reviews the literature on SMEs, their approach and involvement in CSR, and how this differs from large enterprises. The thesis also reviews the legal system in place to promote and regulate CSR. The legal system in place is a combination of corporate law (directors’ duties and disclosure requirements), public procurement rules, and legislation in specific areas (for instance environmental protection legislation). It is clear that much of this regulation is aimed towards larger enterprises, creating a need for reforms to address this imbalance. Three case studies are presented to assist in answering the research questions attached to this thesis. First, a case study is presented to quantify the proportion of environmental and workplace safety related convictions that SMEs account for. This in part answers Research Question 1. The second case study attempts to explain the reasons for the workplace safety related convictions (i.e what were the deficiencies that led to the injury/death and therefore to the prosecution). This in part answers Research Question 2. The third case study reviews the involvement of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) in the live export trade with a particular focus on MLA’s efforts to regulate the industry and further CSR related objectives such as animal welfare. This case study will in part answer Research Question 3. The thesis will then conclude by proposing an array of reforms including: business ethics education, public procurement reform, trade associations and networks, market based regulation and general regulatory enforcement options as a means to promoting CSR within SMEs.
Advisor: Brown, David
Le Mire, Suzanne
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Adelaide Law School, 2017.
Keywords: Coroprate law
corporate social responsibility
business ethics
small business
small to medium enterprises (SMEs)
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/59378cffcce61
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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