Responsible business practices: Aspects influencing decision-making in small, medium and micro-sized enterprises

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, decision-making, responsible business practices, small, medium and micro-sized enterprises, SMME owners, South Africa


AbstractSociety demands responsible actions from both large and small medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs). This study sought to identify the aspects that influence decision-makers of SMMEs to utilise business resources for responsible business practices (RBP) and the different demographic variables that impact on these influencing aspects. After multi-stage sampling, results from a self-administered questionnaire distributed to 84 SMMEs in the Tshwane region indicated that personal feelings and emotions, ethics, morals, financial condition, requests from friends and family, religion and competitive reasons influence SMME decision-makers to spend on RBP. Interesting relationships between these aspects and age, education and gender were identified.  

Author Biography

Edmund John Ferreira, Business Management, Unisa.
Business Management, Professor.


Adamu, H. B. and Yahaya, M. T. 2014. Social responsibility as a tool toward economic growth: Nigerian SMSEs’ participation. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research 14(1):294-307.

Aguinis, H. and Glavas, A. 2012. What we know and don’t know about Corporate Social Responsibility: A review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 38(4):932-968.

Ahmad, N. H. and Seet, P. 2009. Dissecting behaviours associated with business failure: A qualitative study of SMME owners in Malaysia and Australia. Asian Social Science, 5(9):98-104.

Anderson, V. 2004. Research Methods in Human Resource Management. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Brevis, T. and Vrba, M. (eds). 2014. Contemporary Management Principles. Juta: Cape Town.

Byrd, M. J. and Megginson, L. 2013. Small Business Management: An Entrepreneur's Guidebook. 7th ed. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Campin, S., Barraket, J. and Luke, B. 2013. Micro-business community responsibility in Australia: approaches, motivations and barriers. Journal of Business Ethics, 115:489-513.

Cant, M. C., Wiid, J. A. and Hung, Y. 2013. Small business owners’ perceptions of business ethics and employee theft in the small business sector of South Africa. Corporate Ownership & Control, 10(4):237-247.

Cochius, T. 2006. Corporate Social Responsibility in Dutch SMEs: Motivations and CSR Stakeholders, Unpublished dissertation. Maastricht University, Netherlands.

Cooper, D. R. and Schindler, P. S. 2011. Business Research Methods. 11th ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Cooper, D. R. and Schindler, P. S. 2014. Business Research Methods. 12th ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Coppa, M. and Sriramesh, K. 2013. Corporate social responsibility among SMEs in Italy. Public relations review, 39:30-39.

Crane, A., Matten, D. and Spence, L. J. 2014. Corporate Social Responsibility: Readings and cases in a global context. Routledge.

Dahlsrud, A. 2008. How corporate social responsibility if defined: an analysis of 37 definitions. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 15:1-13.

Delmar, F. and Shane, S. 2003. Does business planning facilitate the development of new ventures? Strategic Management Journal, 24():1165-1185.

Dimitratos, P., Petrou, A., Plakoyiannaki, E. and Johnson, J. E. 2011. Strategic decision-making processes in internationalisation: Does national culture of the focal firm matter? Journal of World Business, 46(2):194-204.

Dincer, B. and Dincer, C. 2013. Corporate Social Responsibility Decisions: A Dilemma for SMME Executives? Social Responsibility Journal, 9(2).

Du Toit, G. S., Erasmus, B. J. and Strydom, J. W. 2010. Introduction to Business Management. 8th ed. Oxford University Press: South Africa.

European Commission, 2013. Corporate Social Responsibility for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Compiled by Knopf, J. and Mayer-Scholl, B. Available online from (accessed 31/10/2014).

Faragher, J. 2008. Sustain to gain. Personnel Today, 20-22.

Fatoki, O. and Chiliya, W. 2012. An investigation into the attitudes toward business ethics and corporate social responsibility by local and immigrant SMME owners in South Africa. Journal of Social Science, 32(1):13-21.

Fernandez-Huerga, E. 2008. The economic behaviour of human beings: The Institutional/Post-Keynesian model. Journal of Economic Issues, 42(3):709-726.

Filbeck, G., Hatfield, P. and Horvath, P. 2005. Risk aversion and personality type. The Journal of Behavioural Finance, 6(4):170-180.

FinScope. 2010. FinScope South African Small Business Survey. 2010. (accessed 18/9/2013).

Garengo, P., Biazzo, S. and Bititci, U. S. 2005. Performance measurement systems in SMEs: A review for a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 7(1):25-47.

Gaskill, L. R., Van Auken, H. E. and Manning, R. A. 1993. A factor analytic study of the perceived causes of small business failure. Journal of small business management, 31(4):18-31.

GEM, 2013. South African Report: 20 years of Democracy. Compiled by Herrinton, M. and Kew, J. (accessed 21/09/2014).

GEM, 2015. South African Report: Is South Africa heading for an economic meltdown? [Online] Available from: (accessed 6/10/2016).

Gupta, S., Sukhmani and Kalra, N. 2012. Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on SMEs in India. Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation, 8(2):133-143.

Hammann, E., Habisch, A. and Pechlaner, H. 2009. Values that create value: socially responsible business practices in SMMEs – empirical evidence from German companies. Business Ethics: A European Review, 18(1):37-51.

Hanson, W. R. and Moore, J. R. 2013. Ethical Decision-Making by Business Students: Factors of Influence. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 18(1):15-26.

Hauser, M., Cushman, F., Young, L., Jin, R. and Mikhail, J. 2007. A dissociation between moral judgments and justifications. Minds and Language, 22(1):1-21.

Hilary, G. and Hui, K. W. 2009. Does religion matter in corporate decision making in America? Journal of Financial Economics, 93(3):455-473.

Hsu, J. and Cheng, M. 2012. What prompts small and medium enterprises to engage in corporate social responsibility? A study from Taiwan. Corporate social responsibility and environmental management, 19:288-305

Institute for Business Ethics. 2010. Business Ethics for SMMEs. briefing_6.pdf (accessed 15/8/2013).

Jansen, R. J. G., CurÅŸeu, P. L., Vermeulen, P. A. M., Geurts, J. L. A. and Gibcus, P. 2011. Information processing and strategic decision-making in small and medium-sized enterprises: The role of human and social capital in attaining decision effectiveness. International Small Business Journal, 31(2):192-216.

Jenkins, H. 2006. Small business champions for corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3):241-256.

King, S. 2006. The moral manager. Public Integrity, 8(2):113-133.

Lee, M. H., Mak, A. K. and Pang, A. 2012. Bridging the gap: An Exploratory Study of Corporate Social Responsibility among SMEs in Singapore. Journal of Public Relations Research, 24(4):299-317.

Lepoutre, J. and Heene, A. 2006. Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3):257-273.

McCuen, R. and Shah, G. 2007. Implications of ethics educations of recent neuroscience research on emotions. Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(3):44-56.

Moore, G., Slack, R. and Gibbon, J. 2009. Criteria for responsible business practice in SMMEs: An exploratory case of U.K. Fair Trade organisations. Journal of Business Ethics, 89:173-188.

Moore, G. and Spence, L. 2006. Editorial: Responsibility and small business. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3):219-226.

Mudrack, P. 2007. Individual personality factors that affect normative beliefs about the rightness of corporate social responsibility. Business & Society, 46(1):33-62.

Musso, F. and Francioni, B. 2012. The influence of decision-maker characteristics on the international strategic decision-making process: an SMME perspective. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 58:279-288.

Nejati, M. and Amran, A. 2013. Corporate social responsibility terminologies in small businesses: insights from Malaysia. Business Strategy Series, 14(1):11-14.

Nieman, G. 2006. Small business management: a South African approach. Van Schaik: Pretoria.

Nieuwenhuizen, C. 2011. Business management for entrepreneurs. 2nd ed. Juta: Cape Town.

O’Regan, N., Sims, M. and Ghobadian, A. 2005. High performance: ownership and decision-making in SMMEs. Management Decision, 43(3):382-396.

Parboteeah, K., Hoegl, M. and Cullen, J. 2008. Ethics and religion: An empirical test of a multidimensional model. Journal of Business Ethics, 80:387-398.

Pastrana, N. A. and Sriramesh, K. 2014. Corporate social responsibility: perceptions and practices among SMEs in Columbia. Public relations review, 40:14-24.

Perrini, F., Russo, A. and Tencati, A. 2007. CSR Strategies of SMMEs and Large firms: Evidence from Italy. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(3):285-300.

Phipps, K. A. 2012. Spirituality and Strategic Leadership: The Influence of Spiritual Beliefs on Strategic Decision Making. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(2):177-189.

Power, D. J. and Phillips-Wren, G. 2011. Impact of Social Media and Web 2.0 on Decision-Making. Journal of Decision Systems, 20(3):249-261.

Rodgers, W. and Gago, S. 2004. Stakeholder influence on corporate strategies over time. Journal of Business Ethics, 52(4):349-363.

Rupp, D. E. 2011. An employee-centered model of organizational justice and social responsibility. Organizational Psychology Review, 1(1):72-94.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2009. Research Methods for Business Students. 5th ed. UK: Pearson.

Spence, L. J. 1999. Does size matter? The state of the art in small business ethics. Business Ethics: A European Review, 8(3):163–174.

Spence, L. J. 2007. CSR and small business in a European Policy context: The five “Câ€s of CSR and small business research agenda 2007. Business and Society Review, 112(4):533-552.

Stanley, L. J. 2010. Emotions and Family Business Creation: An Extension and Implications. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34(6):1085-1092.

Statistics South Africa. 2014. Survey of Employers and the Self-employed. (accessed 11/11/2014).

Statistics South Africa. 2015. Labour market dynamics in South Africa, 2014 report. Available online from: (accessed 16/09/2016).

Statistics South Africa. 2016. Media release – Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Available online from: (accessed 16/09/2016).Stokes, D. and Blackburn, R. 2002. Learning the hard way: the lessons of owner-managers who have closed their businesses. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 9(1):17-27.

Svenson, O. 1979. Process descriptions of decision making. Organisational Behaviour and Human Performance, 23:86-112.

the dti. 2008. Department: Trade and Industry, Annual review of small businesses in South Africa 2005-2007. (accessed 5/6/2014).

Tuzco, A. 2014. The impact of corporate social responsibility perception on the job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Journal of the faculty of economics and administrative sciences, 4(1):185-202.

Van Aardt, I. 2013. Principles of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Oxford University Pres: South Africa.

Walsh, M.F. and Lipinski, J. (2009). The role of the marketing function in small and medium sized enterprises. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 16(4):569–585.

Westerman, J., Beekun, R., Stedham, Y. and Yamamura, J. 2007. Peers versus national culture: An analysis of antecedents to ethical decision-making. Journal of Business Ethics, 75(3):239-252.

Westhead, P., Ucbasaran, D. and Wright, M. 2009. Information search and opportunity identification. International Small Business Journal, 27(6):659-680.

Wiltbank, R., Dew, N., Read, S. and Sarasvathy, S. D. 2006. What to do next? The case for non-predictive strategy. Strategic Management Journal, 27:981-998.