Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Corporate Social Responsibility and Higher Education: Uruguay University Students' Perceptions1

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Corporate Social Responsibility and Higher Education: Uruguay University Students' Perceptions1

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This paper assumes a stakeholder approach to analyze the perceptions and attitudes of students at the Uruguayan university towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) in organizations, just as their experiences of current and desired education on the matter. Self-reported data was collected through a structured questionnaire from a representative sample of undergraduates within Business and related areas at the Catholic University of Uruguay. Descriptive and factor analyses revealed a generalized awareness of the relevance of socially responsible criteria, in line with a high demand of CSR education, particularly in contents of relationships with employees, consumers and respect to environment.

Keywords: Public marketing, corporate social responsibility, higher education, students, Uruguay, sustainability, socioeconomic development.

Introduction

Education of organizational responsibility within formal academic programs represents nowadays a priority, both in Latin-American and European countries. It is oriented to the training of professionals qualified to respond efficiently to the new social and environmental needs of modem economies (Vázquez et al., 2011a, 201 lb). When analyzing the causes of this situation, at least three reasons are worth mentioning. Firstly, the consolidation of a concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the business world has increased the demand for professionals qualified in competences for responsible management. Secondly, beyond the area of private firms, interest in CSR has become known also for governments, supranational organisms, social organizations, and other institutional actors. In this sense, the idea that sustainable development (at the three economic, social and environmental levels) depends largely on the responsible behavior of both organizations and citizens is more and more consolidated. And thirdly, all of this have led universities to ask themselves about their own responsibility (what had derived in a concept of University Social Responsibility) thus gaining awareness of their role in the education and training of professionals provided with the competences (knowledge, abilities and attitudes) and values needed for sustainable development.

According to this new view of the purposes of higher education, some previous descriptive studies have shown an increasing tendency over the last decades to include CSR topics on universities and business schools' syllabus (Mahoney, 1990; Mckenna, 1995; Christensen et al., 2007; Wu et al, 2010; Fernández and Bajo-Sanjuán, 2010; Setó-Pamies, 2011), whereas many pedagogical researches have tried to identify the most properly teaching methods (McDonalds, 2004; Balotsky and Steingard, 2006; Caldwell, 2009; Hartman and Werhane, 2010). Further, analytical research proves that students' attitudes, believes and values change by social responsibility learning (Luthar and Karri, 2005; Sobczak et al, 2006; Neubaum et al, 2009; Kolodinsky, 2010; Moon and Orlitzky, 2011; Kleinrichert et al., 2011).

However, systematic evidence on best practices and priorities to articulate CSR education within formal academic curricula in Latin American countries is still scarce. In this context, this paper aims to analyze the concept of CSR held by a sample of university students in Uruguay, just as their experiences of current and desired education on the matter. According to this purpose, it is expected that a better understanding of undergraduates' demands for further CSR education can be used as input to improve the university marketing strategy in working for a better satisfaction of the learning needs of its main objective public. From this framework, a first step consists on identifying the specific contents which should be inculude within the academic curricula. Given the complexity of the concept of CSR and the diversity of theoretical approaches and models developed to explain it, we considered that the stakeholder perspective offers a simple model to easily identify dimensions of CSR education and their perceived importance for students according to the objectives of the research presented here. …

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