Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Corporate Social Responsibility of Hungarian SMEs with Good Environmental Practices

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Corporate Social Responsibility of Hungarian SMEs with Good Environmental Practices

Article excerpt

Small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role in the economy in Europe. Consequently, their contribution to the realisation of sustainable development is also important. After briefly discussing the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in "getting closer to" sustainable development, the specialties of SMEs' CSR are listed. The results and conclusions of a questionnaire survey among Hungarian SMEs with good environmental practices are presented, discussing their motivating factors and the challenges they face, the main stakeholders influencing their CSR performance including their MNE customers. The geographical and company size focus of the survey enables investigation of CSR in Central and Eastern Europe from a new perspective, completing the results of resent surveys on bigger samples among large companies with some minor but interesting aspects.

Kleine und mittlere Unternehmen spielen eine wichtige Rolle in der europäischen Wirtschaft. Deshalb ist auch ihr Beitrag zur Realisation einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung wichtig. Nach einer kurzen Diskussion über die Rolle von Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) im Bemühen um nachhaltige Entwicklung, werden die Besonderheiten von CSR in KMU dargestellt. Die Ergebnisse und Schlussfolgerungen einer Umfrage unter ungarischen KMU mit guten Umweltpraktiken werden präsentiert, wobei ihre Motivationsfaktoren und Herausforderungen, mit denen sie konfrontiert sind, diskutiert werden, sowie die wichtigsten Interessengruppen, die ihre CSR-Leistung beeinflussen, einschließlich multinationaler Kunden. Der geografische und Unternehmensgrößen-Fokus der Befragung ermöglicht die Untersuchung der CSR in Mittel-und Osteuropa aus einer neuen Perspektive. Dadurch werden die Ergebnisse der letzten Umfragen, basierend auf größeren Stichproben unter großen Unternehmen, durch einige kleinere, aber interessante Aspekte vervollständigt.

Key words: SME, Corporate Social Responsibility, environmental performance, sustainability (JEL: Ml4, Q56)

1. The contribution of CSR to sustainable development

The actors of the economic sector have an important role in the realisation of sustainable development. Company level sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are popular issues among policy makers and company representatives as well. The concept of corporate social responsibility was emerging in Europe as early as from the 1990s, getting popular in Central and Eastern Europe with some significant delay, from the mid 2000s. Entering the European Union also contributed to the spread of CSR in new Member States, by making EU documents relevant and fostering the concept among decision-makers. According to the green paper of the European Union CSR is "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis" (European Commission 2001:8.). Corporate Social Responsibility involves several issue areas: environmental protection, countering bribery, respecting employees' rights and philanthropic activity as well. Most of these are extremely relevant in the CEE region. In the latest communication by the Commission, the voluntary nature of CSR is not stressed any more, and the definition only states that CSR is "the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society" (European Commission 2011:6). The communication also highlights that "respect for applicable legislation, and for collective agreements between social partners, is a prerequisite for meeting that responsibility" (European Commission 2011:6). It is still an open question whether, or to what extent CSR can contribute to sustainability goals. There are some aspects of the CSR concept that make it more acceptable and feasible for companies than the "ambiguous" concept of sustainable development. While sustainability investigates the system of relationship of the "economy-society-nature triangle" starting from the macro level and from the aspect of global problems (effects), CSR does the same starting from the micro level, from one of the "causes" of the problems, the companies. …

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