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Can Small be Responsible? The Possibilities and Challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility among Small and Medium Enterprises

Submitted by: World Bank, The

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Jan 25, 2004 – 11:00 PM EST


The World Bank Institute Global e-Conference January 19 – February 8, 2004

Jan. 25 /CSRwire/ - Although most of CSR research and literature focuses on multinational companies (MNCs), the issue is of similar, if not greater, importance for small and medium enterprises. In many countries these companies are important engines of economic growth and employment creation, while at the same time facing particular challenges because of their small size. This becomes even more pronounced in relation to CSR, where it is often said that SMEs simply cannot afford to be socially responsible.

This global e-conference addresses these and other questions with the aim to generate new insights and directions for thought as well as ideas and impulses for action. Each week approaches the topic from a different perspective. The weekly discussion is moderated by expert practitioners, consultants and entrepreneurs in the field who provide the stimulus for debate from their unique perspectives.

Week 1: Is Conventional CSR Wisdom Relevant for SMEs? (January 19 – 23, 2004)

Moderators: Paul Braund, CEO nSpace Corporation, Ivor Hopkins, Senior Partner MHC International Ltd, Michael Sauvante, CEO Rolltronics

  • Can SMEs afford to be socially responsible?
  • How can SMEs be motivated to practice CSR?
  • What are some of the particular challenges facing SMEs in practicing CSR?
  • Are special metrics necessary to capture SME-specific CSR practices? If so, what are they?
  • What role can consultants and academic researchers play in implementing CSR practices among SMEs?
Week 2: How can MNCs assist SMEs in implementing CSR practices? (January 26 – 30, 2004)

Moderators: Ken Larson, CSR Manager Hewlett Packard; Ajay Singh Karki, Executive Director Rugmark Foundation.

  • How are SMEs different from MNCs in the context of CSR?
  • Are codes of conducts established by MNCs for SME suppliers realistic?
  • How can MNCs help SMEs tackle particular issues such as child labor?
  • Do MNCs have a responsibility to support their SME suppliers in implementing CSR practices?
  • Who should be held responsible in the case of violations of code of conduct?
Week 3: Given the importance of local conditions for the operation of SMEs, is a multilateral code of conduct for SMEs feasible? (February 2 – 6, 2004)

Moderators: Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME); Coen Kompier, Specialist International Labour Organisation (ILO), Antonio Vives, Deputy Manager, Private Enterprise and Financial Markets of the InterAmerican Development Bank; Tina Zournatzi, Enterprise Directorate-General of the European Commission.

  • What are some example of the local embeddedness of SMEs?
  • What local conditions are influencing CSR practices?
  • How can macroeconomic policies and government incentives foster CSR among SMEs?
  • Do multilateral organizations like the World Bank, United Nations and European Union have a role to play?
  • Is an international code of conduct for SMEs possible?
Participation is open to all and free of charge. To register for the e-Conference and/or to access the agenda please visit the e-Conference site at http://www.csrwbi.org/sme0104/.

For more information, please contact:

Djordjija Petkoski The World Bank Group


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