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The relationship between CSR and corporate strategy in medium-sized companies: evidence from Italy

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Abstract

The paper responds to the recent calls for further evidence on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Drawing on the extant literature, the authors identify four characteristics contended by academicians as peculiarities of SMEs’ approach to CSR: the intrinsic relationship between CSR and corporate strategy motivated by the need to continuously dialogue with stakeholders; the centrality of the entrepreneur's ethos in CSR decisions; the coexistence and the cross-effect of economically instrumental and ethically motivated CSR policies; and the finalization of CSR initiatives to specific firm growth objectives. These four peculiarities are explored in the case of an Italian medium-sized company operating in the furniture industry. The outcomes show how the four peculiarities are salient in analyzing the CSR approach by the company and suggest areas for further research aimed at developing a thorough theory of CSR in SMEs. In particular, we deepen the analysis of the nature of the uniqueness of medium-sized companies’ approach to CSR, providing possible interpretations of the reasons making medium-sized companies’ approach to CSR different from both small and large companies.

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