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Title: A comparative international analysis of Sense-making of CSR and business ethics related concepts by small business leaders’ in four European countries
Authors: Van Rossem, Annick
Fassin, Yves
Issue Date: Sep-2009
Host Document: .): 8th Annual Colloquium of the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS)
Conference: .): 8th Annual Colloquium of the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) edition:8 location:Barcelona date:21-22 sept
Abstract: Abstract - 2009 EABIS Annual Colloquium Barcelona 21-22 September 2009 A comparative international analysis of Sense-making of CSR and business ethics related concepts by small business leaders’ in four European countries Principal Topic Business ethics and corporate responsibility have been given increased consideration from both academics (Epstein, 1987, Carroll, 2006) and practitioners in the last decades. The issue of corporate responsibility and ethics in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) has only received limited attention in the literature (Spence, 1999). The perception of these notions in the entrepreneurial world can differ from the original academic definitions. In addition, given the impact of the entrepreneur as owner of his venture, corporate responsibility and ethical issues can take a different breadth within SMEs compared to large corporations. Different recent studies have compared the concepts of corporate responsibility, business ethics, sustainability, stakeholder management and related issues noticing many overlapping and similarities (Valor, 2005; Schwarz and Carroll, 2008). Methods For this research, we aim at a cognitive approach. According to several authors (Daft & Weick, 1984; Weick, 1995) organizational sense-making proceeds from scanning of information sources, through interpretation of data to action. Mental representations or models then guide cognition and action relative to strategic choices (Stubbart, 1989). We use the Repertory Grid Technique (RGT), a methodology used to elicit and represent mental models. In a very sensitive area as business ethics and corporate responsibility, classic interviews and surveys present an important risk of bias of socially acceptable response. The repertory grid is a proven technique minimizing researcher bias compared to other cognitive mapping techniques (e.g., Easterby-Smith, Ginsberg, 1989) and gives way to both quantitative and qualitative analysis. A sample size of 15–25 interviewees within a population per researched culture/country generates sufficient constructs to approximate the universe of meaning surrounding a given situation, and is therefore sufficient for RGT (Ginsberg, 1989; Kaish & Gilad, 1991). Key Propositions The aim of the study is to draw an intercultural and international comparison of how small business leaders perceive CSR and business ethics related concepts, how they differentiate between various concepts and determine which are the overarching concepts. Our key proposition is that cultural backgrounds will influence the perception and that concepts may have different meanings in the different European countries. It also states that differentiation between the concepts occurs in different way according the countries. A first study has been undertaken in Belgium. The study has now be replicated in France, Italy, and Norway, by local teams following the same format. A mix of cultures such of Latin, German, Scandinavian culture will allow to compare the perception and differentiation of the various concepts around ethics and corporate responsibility. Implications Sense-making is becoming a topical issue is CSR (Basu & Palazzo, 2008). Raising this issue to an intercultural dimension is even more innovative. Studying which unique knowledge structures (or mental models) small business leaders have in order to process information and how these develop within different countries or cultural settings adds to a better understanding of how small business leaders think and make strategic decisions. It might explain different attitudes and implementations of CSR and business ethics related concepts between countries.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Department of Managerial Economics, Strategy and Innovation (MSI), Leuven
Research Centre for Work and Organisation Studies (WOS Bxl), Campus Brussels
Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) - miscellaneous

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