The influence of context and culture on corporate responsibility expectations in South Africa

Date
2014
Authors
Berger, Lena
Bergman, Manfred Max
Bergman, Zinette
Leisinger, Klaus
Ojo, Emmanuel
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Abstract
Our primary aim with this article is to explore the foundational role of context and culture on corporate responsibility expectations in South Africa. The secondary aim is to develop an assessment and analysis tool that captures adequately the influence of context and culture on corporate responsibility expectations, which may be adapted to study corporate responsibility issues between different contexts, cultures, business sectors, stakeholder groups, regions, nations, etc. Overall, this article contributes to the empirical study of corporate responsibility within international policy and business applications. To explore context and culture in a specific environment, we studied advanced, i.e. post-BA economics and management students in South Africa, who provided written essays on their corporate responsibility expectations. This data collection strategy allowed respondents to use their own words, logic, and understandings about the issues under investigation. We analyzed the data using content configuration analysis and multidimensional scaling within a Hermeneutic Content Analysis framework. The main findings are that our respondents bypass or transcend the mainstream academic literature on corporate responsibility. Their responses are more akin to the debates around sustainability. Economic and social development are the main spheres within which corporate responsibility is conceptualized among our South African advanced economics students, while environmental issues are mostly absent. The two spheres are related in that the dimensions that form the spheres are interconnected: the economic sphere is interdependently tied to social development. A finer analysis of the MDS structure reveals close ties between the respondents' expectations of the responsibilities of corporations, the historical context, and cultural dimensions prevalent in South Africa.
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Keywords
Corporate responsibility -- South Africa , Multidimensional scaling , Hermeneutic Content Analysis -- South Africa
Citation
Berger, L., Bergman, M.M., Bergman, Z., Leisinger, K., & Ojo, E. (2014). The influence of context and culture on corporate responsibility expectations in South Africa. Journal of International Business Ethics, 7(2), 3-21.