Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Care and Connection: A Study of Gender Differences in Charitable Contributions of Small Businesses

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Care and Connection: A Study of Gender Differences in Charitable Contributions of Small Businesses

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes differences in male- and female-owned small businesses' corporate social performance. The results of an empirical study comparing the charitable contributions of female-owned and male-owned small businesses in terms of the amount of contributions, and the criteria utilized in making decisions about charitable contributions, are presented. The findings suggest that there are no significant differences between female- and male-owned firms in terms of the amounts of charitable donations, but, as predicted by the women's voices approach to feminist theory, the reasons for giving differ significantly.

INTRODUCTION

During the last two decades women have entered the workforce in record numbers, and this trend is expected to continue throughout the 1990s and beyond. Further, recent trends indicate that women are increasingly interested in creating their own jobs. Women started new businesses at six times the rate of men for the period 1974-1984 (Leavitt, 1988), and femaleowned businesses now account for at least 25 percent of all businesses in the United States (Sexton & Bowman-Upton, 1990). The growth of female-owned businesses and their importance to the economy makes it imperative that female-owned small businesses are considered when investigating corporate social performance, or the involvement of business in resolving social problems (Carroll, 1979; Wartick & Cochran, 1985). This paper contributes to the growth of theory on corporate social performance by explicitly including both small businesses and feminist theory into our empirical study of charitable giving practices.

The corporate social performance of small businesses in general has received scant theoretical or empirical attention in the study of management, as a large-scale orientation persists (Chrisman & Archer, 1984). Innovation in the development of new products, processes, and services is important to raise marginal productivity and increase profits for a nation's economy; this is the province of entrepreneurs or small business owners (Hisrich, 1990). The impact of small business is apparent at the local, regional, and national levels of the economy, and it is inaccurate to simply assume that the corporate social performance behaviors of these firms are comparable to those of large corporations. Recent arguments have noted that the addition of small business to the theoretical framework on corporate social performance would contribute to theory development and managerial practice (Thompson, Wartick, & Smith, 1991). In addition, small business owners and managers have scant information available on which to evaluate their social contribution endeavors or to devise strategies and policies concerning socially responsible actions. This paper presents the results of an empirical investigation of corporate social performance practices in small businesses. Specifically, corporate social performance will be analyzed in terms of actual charitable contributions of female-owned small businesses as compared to those of male-owned small businesses.

Research has indicated that the differential socialization of males and females at early ages may account for sex differences in personality development (Chodorow, 1989; Gilligan, 1982). The amount of and reasons given by an individual for contributing to charitable organizations should be related to certain personality factors, for example, values and ethical standards. Further, given that men and women are socialized differently, forcing differential personality development, it is reasonable to presume that an individual's charitable giving and reasons for giving may be related to these socialization practices. The development of the corporate social performance model has not previously included discussion of gender differences, and how these differences can add insight to theories of corporate social performance. The purpose of this paper is to examine social responsibility in small businesses, specifically charitable contributions of female- and male-owned small businesses, in terms of the amount of contribution and the criteria utilized in making these donation decisions. …

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