The main aim of this research was to establish the extent to which the increased priority of CSR is in actuality a reflection of companies acting to meet the interests of society or simply a means for generating profits in a marketing oriented way. In this regard, the research sought to explore CSR behaviour in depth and in turn tried to establish companies’ rationales for CSR behaviour in the UK food retail industry.
A mixed methodology with both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis were used in the research. Qualitative content analysis was used for analysing the contents of food retailers’ websites pertaining to CSR. Store Audits were conducted in order to identify the CSR practices and extent to which they are exercised by different food retailers. In – depth formal interviews were conducted with key decision makers with the goal of obtaining information on CSR activities. Lastly, a questionnaire survey was used with the UK consumer population as the population of interest.
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The members of the UK Food Retail Industry showed that they have given paramount importance to CSR in order to somehow become a better neighbour to their customers, render them effective public services and at the same time contribute to the preservation and protection of the environment. The responses to the questions revealed a common rationale behind their CSR policies and ensured that the organisation established a good reputation amongst the members of the community, thereby enabling the latter to maintain a certain level of trust for the UK food retailers.
The study supported the fact highlighted by previous studies that companies have become more aware and mindful of their responsibilities, roles and rights towards the society. They were seen to have implemented activities, practices and guidelines in order to fulfill their legal, ethical, social and environmental roles and responsibilities towards stakeholders, employees, customers, and environment and society in general. However, it can also be realised that these policies contribute to the building of trust in the customers towards the organisations. Thus, as the trust is established, it is more likely that the customers will remain loyal to the organisation, thereby increasing their chances of generating profit.
For many years Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been associated with related terms like business ethics, corporate performance, corporate accountability, corporate responsibility and stake holder involvement. In recent years CSR has grown into a well-known collective expression. The growth of CSR has been a result of organisations realising their responsibility toward their stake holders in the context of business scandals (e.g. Enron) and a growing concern for environmental changes (e.g. global warming).
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