Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Corporate Social Responsibility: Challenges of Implementing MTN Digital Libraries in Nigerian Universities

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Corporate Social Responsibility: Challenges of Implementing MTN Digital Libraries in Nigerian Universities

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 2005, a multinational communication giant in Nigeria (MTN) initiated her Foundation of Corporate social responsibility intervention in three key areas namely: health, economic empowerment and education. The education portfolios include scholarship for outstanding science, engineering and medical students in Universities in Nigeria. It is vital to situate the development of the virtual Libraries they instituted against the backdrop of corporate social responsibility, (CRS). Mac Williams, Siegel and Wright (2004) have defined CRS as "situations where the firm goes beyond compliance and engages in actions that appear to further some social good beyond the interest of the firm. Most corporate law regimes would require every firm to maximize dividend returns to shareholders rather than disperse the firms profit to non shareholders (Friedman 19970). But Carool (1979) provides brooder framework of CSR to include the philosophy of social responsiveness. Along this line of thought, Hopkins (2004) took a perspective look beyond their firm's duty to shareholders and rather brought stakeholders into focus of corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to him stakeholders exist both within a firm or outside it. He perceives the natural environment as a stakeholder. Therefore he saw the wider aim of social responsibility as creating higher and higher standard of living while preserving for peoples both within and outside the corporation (Hopkins 2004).

Stretching this argument the Stewardship theory of CSR argues 'there is a moral imperative for managers to do the right things without regard to how such decision affect the firm's financial performance' (Donaldson, 1990). But the consideration of the firm's financial performance is in issue, because CSR can only be effectively performed from a firm's performance in terms of profit level. The argument is stretched further by Barron (2001) who tried to differentiate socially and privately responsible action. He argues that if the motivation of CRS is to serve society, at the cost of profit, such action is socially responsible but where the action is to serve the bottom line, then it is privately responsible.

Amaeshi et al (2006) provide a critique for CSR. Their study found that "indigenous firms perceive the practice of CSR as corporate philanthropy aimed at addressing socio-economic development challenges in Nigeria". This finding therefore confirms that CSR is a construct that is localized and socially embedded. It is a little wonder that corporate executives in Nigeria define CSR from the perspective of philanthropy. One of the definitions see CSR as "the corporate act of giving back to the immediate and under community in which organizations carry out their business in a manner that is meaningful and valuable and relevant to the community" (Amechi, 2006). This author also stated that CSR is a way a company tries to reach out to their host communities by impacting on their environments positively. It was seen also as a means of saying "thank you" to the community in which the company had operated--to show them a sense of belonging.

The issues that arise from these various positions of scholars are as follows. Is CSR truly a philanthropic initiative of the rich multinationals handing down few carrots of goodwill to the beneficiaries? Are CSR initiatives aimed at promoting some social goods? Is it a payback action designed to give out so little from the so much gain/profit made by firms? Is CSR an economic advancement or empowerment programme? Is CSR intending to translate into corporate economic responsibility (CER)? While all these questions are germane to any discourse on CSR, they cannot all be addressed here. What can be discerned from the literature is that CSR as a concept means different things to different authors. It, nevertheless, has been the approach of many CSR initiatives where firms think they know what the beneficiaries needs are and then strive to provide what can be regarded as CSR solutions. …

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