Practice and politics: Ethics and social responsibility in SMEs in the European Union

Laura J. Spence, Francesco Perrini

Abstract


In this paper we outline the status quo of ethics and social responsibility in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union (EU). Social issues and SMEs is an established topic of research and subject of policy-making in Europe, and thus in this paper we are able to draw on existing activities to summarise what we know about the topic. We describe the important position given to SMEs and entrepreneurship as drivers of the economy through job creation, social inclusion and issues such as employee health and welfare. We note that the ethics/social responsibility practices and strategies of SMEs tend to be greater than expected, but are informal and local community-based rather than replicating large firm approaches. To demonstrate the variety within Europe, we provide some nation-specific perspectives on social responsibility and SMEs with a closer look at Denmark, Italy, the UK and central and eastern Europe and the Baltic States. 


Keywords


SMEs; Europe; European Union; social responsibility; CSR; business ethics

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15249/4-2-68

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