LOGISTICS RESEARCH PAPER ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SUPPLY CHAINS

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SUPPLY CHAINS

1.0 Executive Summary

Supply chains’ main purpose is to ensure an excellent relationship between customers and suppliers of particular goods and services. They have put in place practices that ensure that close contact between firms and customers is maintained. A number of firms have capitalized on Corporate Social Responsibility as a way of trapping the loyalty of customers. In respect to this, this research report will focus on coming up with findings regarding the impacts of CSR in supply chains. Some of the findings discussed in this paper include: CSR has helped ensure that there is a constant and efficient flow of actions and implementation of strategies that involve dynamics of products and services in global firms, it has led to the promotion of pleasure and satisfaction of the stakeholders in such a way that there is a harmonious existence and mutual benefit for all those involved in the operation of firms, it has led to the creation of competitive advantage in the market and in the industry, CSR has played a huge role in the implementation of transactional strategies as well as customer and supplier satisfaction globally, it has led to satisfaction and bargaining power among customers and strategic positioning of firms in the global market has been influenced by CSR. Despite the extensive discussion of the findings, there are a number of limitations of the findings in this report. First, the report assumes that all firms across the globe have all employed CSR as a way of reaching the customers. Secondly, the report has generalized the global firms and does not put the management differences into consideration. Thirdly, the research report is only based on the findings of few researchers and this is a disadvantage to the huge number of entrepreneurs across the globe. The report is divided into an introductory part that introduces the topic of research and discusses the aims and objectives of the research. There is a literature review section that contains discussions of the impacts of CSR in supply chains. The report ends with a conclusion that summarizes the findings of the report and also gives suggestions for future reference.

2.0 Introduction

Arguably, the entrepreneurial world in the modern generation has become very competitive. This is due to the continuous entry of a number of corporations in the world of business. Despite the existing stiff competition in the global entrepreneurial sector, corporations have come up with various strategies of ensuring that they are successful. One of the strategies that several corporations have capitalized on is putting in place supply chain activities in their various fields of entrepreneurship. Cohen, Frazzini & Malloy (2010) articulate that supply chain is known to be a system where organizations, resources, information and people are all involved in the movement of goods and services from the known suppliers to the customers. Global supply chains are known to emphasize on corporate social responsibility. CSR has increasingly and continues to penetrate the global entrepreneurial world especially in the developed countries (Heath & Heath, 2010, pp 195). The stakeholders in the CSR theory have a number of issues and responsibilities to undertake. Stakeholders in this case, are the individuals, groups or societies that are in a position of being affected by a particular organization. The stakeholders involved in the corporate social responsibility emphasized by most corporations include employees of the organizations, shareholders, consumers, governments, community and the environment at large. Other important people who have the mandate of undertaking social responsibilities are the suppliers of various organizations, trade unions, business associates and competitors (Heath & Heath, 2010, pp 195).

It is worth noting that corporate social responsibility has played an integral part in ensuring that organizations are committed to operating in economically and sustainable environments while bearing in mind the interests of the stakeholders and other people involved (Ashley & Haysom, 2006, pp 273). A number of global brands have been under scrutiny and intense pressure from the social groups working for them to include social responsibility in their terms of management. For instance, Adidas, Nike and the McDonalds have in the past been under great pressure. Since it has been difficult for the petit groups to reach the big global brands and the so-called big names, the pressure has been channeled to the brands via the supply chain. Tactics such as the exploitation of cheap labor conditions by global firms and targeting the sourcing and the activities of global corporations have been used by the small groups to push for the adoption of corporate social responsibility by the global firms. The attacks that the small groups have projected towards global firms have been seen to bear fruits in the recent years. This is because the attacks have helped garner public sentiments and resentments; that have been directed towards the global brands that practice irresponsible social behavior such as environmental pollution and poor working conditions among others. Once people develop negative perceptions about certain firms, the perceptions tend to persist, regardless of the level of the firm or its suppliers on the supply chain spectrum. Jordan (2010) points out that, the negative image and bad perception among consumers, stakeholders and customers prompts the firms to bear responsibilities that are indefinite for their wide and long networks of suppliers.  In the end, firms often do everything at their reach and disposal to protect their image and name in the global market. For example, the firms often strive to account for the seeming irresponsible behaviors exhibited by their suppliers and stakeholders. Besides, firms can come up with code of conducts, corporate cultures, personnel training, value orientation and anti-pressure group campaigns, which can help them to ensure responsible social activities in the business environment. Pushing for adoption of CSR in global brands has had several impacts such as improvement of the firm-customer relationships and better global brand images among others (Balmer, Fukukawa & Gray, 2007). In this case, the main objective of the research is to focus on the impacts that corporate social responsibility has had on the global brands. The report will focus on a number of literature reviews that have previously studied the adoption of the CSR by global brands. Additionally, the plan of the research report is to come up with possible suggestions for future research on a similar topic.

3.0 Literature Research

In this section, a number of views that interlink supply chain, corporate social responsibility and organizational success are discussed and exploited. Both, taking responsibility by Lane and Offsetting illegitimacy? How pressures from securities analysts influence incumbents in the face of new technologies by Benner and Ranganathan concur that the easiest way for an organization to come up strongly is through the use of corporate social responsibility. This helps in strategic positioning of the organization. According to Ramom Mullerat’s, “corporate social responsibility: the corporate governance of the 21st century,” markets of the modern business scenarios require a sustainable process of development that leads to eventual stability and success. Leadership and management are the key pillars that raise both the CSR and supply chains to the right levels. This is as illustrated by Mathisen’s, “Profitability, environment, and social equity,” where the organizational policies are urged to incline themselves towards the achievement of good placement in the environment and the community such that profitability is evident. Moreover, other pieces of writing such as “CSR – Making business sense,” by Afiya as well as Henderson’s, “Corporate social responsibility and tourism: Hotel companies in Phuket, Thailand, after the Indian Ocean tsunami,” propose that with the inclusion of aspects of Porters five force model and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an organization is capable of including the human and machinery resource in the link between CSR and supply chains. This section seeks to delve into these and more in order to expound on the impacts of using CSR as part of supply chains 

To start with, a product or service that is in the market for the consumption or use by a group of customers is often an important element of the business world. It involves an almost endless chain through which a sequence of events takes place. An explanation offered by Benner and Ranganathan (2012) implies this to mean that there are a number of stages and steps that contribute to what is generally referred to as the finished product or the perfectly satisfying service offered by a brand or organization (P.215). As such, more often than not, there is involvement of the important aspect of supply chain together with what it entails and what it does to contribute to the overall outcome of the organization’s or company’s production to the point at which the product comes into contact with the market and, eventually, to the clients and customers (Bear, Rahman & Post, 2010, pp 210).

These supply chains are, therefore defined as the chain of events and steps of operation that involve handling a product from the process of supply, modification and to the transaction with the customer. On the other hand, it is important to look at the aspect of human resource in the supply chain. Any form of workforce, working environment or staff of an organization ought to have a considerable thought and input as far as supply chains are concerned. This goes a long way to ensure that there is a constant and efficient flow of actions and implementation of strategies that involve dynamics of products and services. From the management through to the lowest ranks in the hierarchical stratification of staff and employees, it is possible to pinpoint the fact that even supply chains have the demands brought upon the organization by the human resource (Choi & Parsa, 2006, p.50).

Benner (2010) articulates that one aspect of organizational structure that links the supply chain to the core of the organizational strategies is the fact that there is always an element of effectiveness and profit in any organization with an aim to acquire advancement of statues. For any company to come about with the idea of how many steps have been made in terms of attaining a particular milestone there has to be an element of evaluation. In this process, the evaluation will require that the organization and it s auditing teams or departments come about with the results on how much development has been attained. This is in regard of the kinds of periodic profits analysis as well as the growth that the length of time has brought to the company. A broader look at this scenario brings out the kind of SWOT analysis that intends to issue compare the previous and the present levels of achievement. This element is best described as the development or growth (Choi & Parsa, 2006, p.50).

The best kind of development that an organization can comfortably invest in with the hope of achieving the original goals is known as the sustainable development. Any kind of advancement requires that it has a stable backing and can be fully dependable for the future production processes of the organization. It should be a consideration of various factors that influence the available options and drivers of the economic field at the geographical location as well as the stakeholders and suppliers. Sustainable development demands that the kind of strategies put in place for maximization of profit and production go a long way to produce an increase in the yield as well as proving benevolent to the surroundings. This kind of benevolence goes a long way to not only conserve resources but also contribute to the self-perpetuating ecology in such a way that enough resources for production and manufacture are available for the future processes (Delmas & Montes-Sancho, 2011, p 2278).

On the other hand, it is important to note that the aim of sustainable development is to come about with strategies whose implementations will promote the pleasure and satisfaction of the stakeholders in such a way that there is a harmonious existences and mutual benefit for all those involved. Another way in which the management and leadership can figure out the impact brought about by the practice of organizational culture to bring about sustainable development is through the strategic positioning that comes consequently. The aspect of good strategic positioning is the description of the reputation that the organization, its supply chain and its products attain in a particular market jurisdiction. It is important for a company or a firm to come up with ways to bring itself to an elevated level in terms of placement in the ladder of respect and reputation. Some of the ways through which this action is done is by the production of perfect products as well as services. In terms of marketing, good quality of products that are not only user-friendly, but also cost effective. In this regard, a product will speak for itself when placed at the market (Detwiler, 2005, p.65).

According to Anderson, another consequent impact of the use of corporate social responsibility involves the creation of competitive advantage in the market and in the industry. The supply chain is a key pillar of the development of the organization or company. It plays a huge role in the implementation of transactional strategies as well as customer and supplier satisfaction. According to the principles elucidated by the porters five forces model, there is the element of coming up with beneficial strategies which not only affect the people but also the product that is brought forth (Doherty, 2007, p.4). This is in the sense of dealing with the customers and the suppliers. Basic rules of corporate social responsibility in line with the porter’s five forces model demand that the organization deals with the suppliers in a respectful, mutually benefiting manner and effective transactional terms that play a key role in the development of the supplier as well as the organization (Hartman, Rubitn & Dhanda, 2007, p.378).

This affects, in a positive way, both the parties in such a way that there is sustainable development and good relations between the two parties. Provision of competitive and benevolent business environment in the processes comes in handy when striving to come up with quality of service as well as internal and external development of the entities involved.  Apparently, when there is good strategic positioning in the industry on the part of either the company or the supplier, the aspect of bargaining power comes to play and affects the way people perceive the mode of operation in the way of conducting business. Such relations with the supplier help, in wider perspective, the development and improvement of quality of supply by the supplier. The root cause of this can be traced in the existence of sustainable development and bargaining power in both the organizations (Henderson, 2007, p.231).

According to Holcomb, Upchurch and Okumus, 2007, customer satisfaction and the bargaining power that comes with it is also implied in the porter’s five forces model. According to the principles of corporate social responsibility states that in as much as the for-profit organization seeks to come up with ways of gaining strides in terms of profit maximization, there is need to also ensure that all the customers and the other stakeholder of the organization are satisfied with the kind of service and terms that are brought on the table at the time of the transaction (P. 469). According to Jaszay and Dunk, 2006, creative exploitation of this principle will bring about an advantage in a manner that both the company and the customers are at high levels in which their bargaining powers match (P.181). Thus, for the purposes of travelling the mucky waters of competition in the market, the organization strives to come up with innovative ways of satisfying the customers as well as the stakeholders. It is important that the company strives to produce quality products, user-friendly and cost effective entities that satisfy specific needs of the customer while coming up with the key strategies to avail the newer and more competitive products. Meanwhile, there should be a corporate department that deals with customer care needs; ensuring all round satisfaction as well as improving the accessibility to the services (Lane, 2006, p.42).

   New entrants in terms of products as well as competitors also play a role in contributing to the state of competition within the industry and in the market. Corporate social responsibility in the supply chain also comes in handy in giving the organization a leeway to attaining a competitive advantage as well as the strategic positioning in the market. Apparently, when there is good supplier-customer relationship, it is possible to have products and services that are not only fair but also superior to both the existing competition and the new entrants in terms of products and companies. When there is an existing organizational culture of using strategic plans that enhance the concept of corporate social responsibility, there is a great likelihood to come up with ways of overcoming the challenges brought by competition (Carroll, Lipartito, Post & Werhane 2012, p 252)

 Maak proposes that the internal aspects of the organization also play a role in influencing the use of corporate social responsibility in the supply chain, which in turn has a variety of impacts on the nature of competitive advantage, as well as strategic positioning in the market. When the internal structure of the organization and its way of doing things evaluated, it is possible to come up with the various elements that portray the organizational culture of the organization. Embedded strongly in this aspect are the concept of initial processes and the final success of the organization. Organizational structure and culture are virtually dictated by the objectives as well as the goals set from the time of inception to the point of attaining the desired level of advancement. Internal aspects of the organization should reflect the kind of drivers and influencers of the day-to-day conduction of business. Motivation of the employees and mitigation of issues that affect the personal well being as well as the driving factors towards climbing the ladder illustrated by the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are some of the most vital issues that express the deliberate effort towards fulfilling the corporate social responsibility (Maak, 2007, p.335).

There is a link between the establishment of the organization and the people that reside around the geographical region that requires keen interest in the implementation of the corporate social responsibility that is strongly required in the modern business set up. Service to the people is one of the requirements that any clever organization can invest in to create a sustainable sense of development (Ioannou & Serafeim 2013, p.18). It is the people in the local areas that will form the workforce as well as the providers of the miscellaneous supplies needed for some of the operation in the organization to take place in an efficient manner (Ioannou & Serafeim 2013, p.18). Moreover, the employment of the local people and treating them with the kind of humane conditions that are generally acceptable in the society comes about as the shortest and most sure way of developing a good rapport with the society. There is very little proof on the part of the company, firm or organization of involvement social corporate responsibility to the people if there is no clear indication of satisfaction of the employees involved in the supply chain section and other departments. For this reason, a concerted effort needs to be put in place for not only the supply chain workforce but also the other employees. This effort, extended to the entire surrounding human population in the community, goes a long way to impact positively on the outcome of the efforts to make and leave a mark in the community that forms the market and supply source of the organization (Cheng, Ioannou & Serafeim, 2013, p. 57).

Apart from the people in the community, there is also the need to direct attention to the planet and the elements of it that will affect the present and future processes of business and transactions. Some of the key issues that have come up in the past and present centuries include the issues of global warming and climate change (Minnaert, Maitland & Miller, 2006, p.17). A number of factors, many of which are attributed to the industrial revolution, have caused the dynamics of the environment. Global warming comes about because of the depletion of the ozone layer as well as the concentration of carbon wastes on the lowest layers of the atmosphere.  As opined by Paton, the depletion of the ozone layer leads to the ability of dangerous rays to penetrate and reach the dwellers of the earth surface. The concentration of the carbon-based wastes leads to the greenhouse effects, which causes excessive concentration of heat on the earth surface. Generally, research has drawn the attention of the world and managements of the various industries, the fact that one many of these problems result from effluents form the firms (Paton, 2007, p.47). Findings in the 1970s record that global warming and climate change were more than five time lower than they were in the 1980s and the data continues to grow exponentially to date. In addition to this, the fuel yields that are used to run motor vehicles and machines in the supply chains are reducing at an alarming rate (Minnaert, Maitland & Miller, 2006, p.17).

Such worrying trends therefore demand that, as a way of inculcating the culture of corporate social responsibility, to come up with strategies that trend towards the use of green energy as well as facilities. By contributing to this campaign in their supply chains, the companies make an effort to create a scenario where there is sustainable development while at the same time bringing itself to a strategic position in the competition within and without the industry. In their writing addressed to the modern day managers, Gonzalez-Perez and Leonard assert that  the two results leads to a strengthened brand that attains accolades and is recognized by the vast number of bodies such as LEEDS (Paton, 2007, p.47).

Amaeshi Osuji also believes that the adoption of the CSR has affected the global firms in that power and influence have been attained by the firms in the global community. In the entrepreneurial world, there are firms that aim at enforcing principles of responsible behavior from a deontological perspective. On the other hand, there are firms that implement or put such principles into practice in order to maximize on their profits. Amaeshi Osuji points out that there are a number of firms that have attained power and influence through their emphasis on corporate social responsibilities. Osuji gives an example of UK clothing retailers. Osuji says that the retailers have managed to exhibit their power in the UK clothing market by embracing various social responsibilities that have attracted more customers.  As a result, a number of clothing retailers in the UK have been profitable and successful.  Osuji argues that any business environment cannot exist without exceptions such as the firms that have rejected the adoption of CSR. Such firms are on the verge of diminishing due to reasons such as reductions in quality of goods and services, lack of investment, job losses that are constantly experienced by employees in firms and lack of innovation.  It is worth noting that power and influence have been the backbone of the success of a number of global firms. For example, the Apple Company has been a powerful firm that has strived to succeed in the current competitive technological industry. A number of customers often give preference to firms that are already established and are powerful (Lane, 2006, p.42).  The power of the Apple Company was attained by its struggle to embrace social responsibility. The firm ensured that it reached the customers at the grass root level through its supply chains and helped the customers in social responsibilities such as environmental conservation and quality production among others.

Ramon Mullerat in his book “Corporate Social Responsibility: The Corporate Governance of the 21st Century” articulates that the adoption of CSR by a number of firms has had a significant impact in that it has helped achieve stable and sustainable environmental conditions. These conditions have enhanced the living conditions of humankind especially those in the poverty-stricken developing countries. Ramon points out that for a long time; businesses have been focused on confronting climate change and their several ramifications for the existence of humankind. Choi (2006) suggests that, in carrying out their social responsibilities, the leaderships of firms have ensured that one way of putting in place stable and sustainable environmental conditions is by fighting global climate change. Rammon says that there is an ever increasing expectation among people for greater social responsibility and accountability to show how firms are assessing and managing climate change risks and reporting on their greenhouse emissions. This has been a perfect social responsibility embraced by many firms and this has helped them attract more customers.

4.0 Conclusion and suggestions for future research

In conclusion, it is acknowledged that the modern entrepreneurial world has become competitive and harsh; harsh due to a number of reasons such as pressures from pressure groups. A number of firms have limited their scope of responsibility and this has made the corporate social responsibility to become more effective across the global brands and along the supply chain. It is worth noting that a number of global firms as discussed in the research, are currently under great pressure to salvage or rather rescue their brand images and names from previous irresponsible behaviors along their supply chain (Chatterji, Levine & Toffel, 2009, p 128). Pressure groups have often understood the pressure that the global brands face and they have seized the opportunities to promote their agenda. Although the firms have been pushed here and there to embrace corporate social responsibilities, his has helped in some way to attract more customers, thus enhancing profitability. The main purpose of this research report is to analyze the impacts of the corporate social responsibility, in the context of global supply chains. To begin with, one of the impacts of the CSR as analyzed in the paper is that it has helped ensure that there is a constant and efficient flow of actions and implementation of strategies that involve dynamics of products and services in global firms. As a matter of fact, from the management through to the lowest ranks in the hierarchical stratification of staff and employees in firms, it is possible to pinpoint the fact that even supply chains have the demands brought upon the organization by the human resource (Chatterji, Levine & Toffel, 2009, p 130).

The other impact of CSR in global firms as analyzed in the paper is that it has led to the promotion of pleasure and satisfaction of the stakeholders; in such a way that there is a harmonious existences and mutual benefit for all those involved in the operation of firms. Additionally, it is argued that the adoption of the CSR by global firms has led to the creation of competitive advantage in the market and in the industry. This is because the supply chain is a key pillar of the development of any organization or company. Besides, it is argued that the CSR has played a huge role in the implementation of transactional strategies as well as customer and supplier satisfaction globally. It is also important to note that the adoption of CSR by firms has led to customer satisfaction and bargaining power among customers. According to the principles of corporate social responsibility, in as much as the for-profit organization seeks to come up with ways of gaining strides in terms of profit maximization, there is need to also ensure that all the customers and the other stakeholders of the organization are satisfied with the kind of service and terms that are brought on the table at the time of the transaction (Eccles, Ioannou, Serafeim, 2013, p 016). Corporate social responsibility has also influenced the strategic positioning of firms in the global market. Once customers are happy with the social responsibilities carried out by a particular firm, they will push for its establishment in any location. CSR has also helped to ensure that there is good rapport among the members of firms, the customers and the suppliers of the firm. Good rapport is attained when everyone is involved in social responsibilities that are adopted by firms (Redford, 2005). The power and influence that is exhibited by a number of firms is also a fruit of the CSR adoption by firms across the globe.

Suggestions

Evidently, firms often focus on achieving profitability in the end. That is the reason why, as discussed in this research, the adoption of corporate social responsibility by global firms has had a number of positive impacts. Similarly, the future direction proves to be very important. There are a number of strategies that firms and corporations should put in place if corporate social responsibility will be welcome and appreciated by customers and suppliers of firms. To begin with, for corporate social responsibility to be welcome by suppliers and customers, firms should ensure that they have already established good rapport with customers and suppliers so that the rolling out of the plans of CSR does not become a difficult and challenging task. Secondly, regarding the future direction of CSR adoption by global firms, it should be ensured that the perception of customers and suppliers towards a particular firm is positive (Dixon-Fowler et al, 2013, pp 355). This will make it easier for the CSR principles of a particular firm are adopted. The leadership structures of firms also play an integral role in the existence of firms and their relationships with either customers or suppliers. Arguably, some of the most successful firms across the globe have been under stable and good leadership structures. For instance, Nike, McDonalds and Apple are the few firms whose leadership and proper management has seen them move to higher levels in the global market. Therefore, it would be worth noting that with effective and good leadership, global firms would not have a problem rolling out their CSR principles and plans. The future direction of firms in their bid to enhance CSR principles in the global market would also be boosted by the stakeholders of firms.  The motivation of stakeholders and other people involved in the operation of firms has often made it easier for the corporate social responsibilities that are in store to be easily rolled out (Dixon-Fowler et al, 2013, pp 355). Motivation of stakeholders happens in various ways such as giving of rewards and salary increment, which is always the main agenda when it comes to the employment sector.

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