Pei Yi Beh & Sushila Devi Rajaratnam
This paper explored small and medium enterprise (SME) food retail owners’ understanding on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and identified their CSR practices. Limited research has focused on CSR in SMEs despite their economic and social significance in many countries, including Malaysia. The study attempted to narrow this gap. Semi-structured interviews were held with eight SME food retail owners in the Klang Valley, an area with a high density of SME food retail businesses. Interviewees were selected using purposive and snowball sampling and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed. The general understanding among SME food retail owners is that CSR benefits customers, employees and the community and is synonymous with financial contributions from large organisations. However, a negative perception is that large organisations engage in CSR either to gain publicity or evade taxation. Nine CSR practices were identified and themed into six dimensions: stakeholder, economic, sociocultural, philanthropic, environmental and legal. The economic, legal, philanthropic, environmental and stakeholder dimensions are consistent with the CSR models proposed by Carroll (1979) and Dahlsrud (2008). However, the dimension classified as sociocultural does not exist in both Carroll’s and Dahlsrud’s models and emerged from the findings of this study. Hence, sociocultural is a new dimension. Though this study provides some significant findings, it focused on independent owner-operated food retail outlets, in one area and sought only owners’ perceptions. Future studies can focus on other important stakeholders, particularly employees and customers, to obtain more balanced findings. Moreover, instead of using only a qualitative research design, future studies can employ both qualitative and quantitative research design to obtain more robust findings.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, small and medium enterprises, food retail owners, hospitality, Malaysia