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Information for G02266

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Corporate Social Responsibility: A discussion paper

Tom Fox


Every business entity has its stakeholders and its impacts on society, both positive and negative. The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), broadly defined as the overall contribution of a business to sustainable development (SD), should therefore be equally valid for large and small enterprises. But the focus in discussions on CSR tends to be on the largest companies; small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often overlooked. Some related policy debates, however, do address SMEs, with programmes on enterprise development and business development services often focusing on ensuring an enabling environment for SMEs and microenterprises. The justification is that a vibrant SME sector can form the bedrock on which all economic activity is built, and that SMEs can be the mainstay of an economy, particularly in terms of employment.

This paper examines this apparent dissonance between the SME/CSR agenda and the SME/SD agenda. We take the position that CSR is a useful entry point from which to consider SMEs. We assume that there remains scope for reforming the CSR agenda to be more relevant to SMEs, and we explore how this might be achieved.

Publication information

  • IIED code: G02266
  • Published: Jun 2005
  • Theme: Governance
  • Language: English

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