Business Ethics
Dissertation: Attitudes of the Management Students towards Corporate Social Responsibility in ‘Royal Holloway, University of London’ (Part 5/5)

Chapter 5: Conclusion

After the descriptive statistics for the respective variable (i.e., research question) is computed from SPSS, the attitudes of the students studying in Royal Holloway, University of London can be known. Apart from that, factor analysis is also performed to reduce the 46 variables into a total of 10 representative variables or dimensions that can used to explain the attitudes of the research participants towards the subject of Corporate Social responsibility. In this chapter, conclusion will be presented to finalize the findings and discussions articulated in this dissertation. Besides, the limitations of this research design will also be articulated. Then, suggestions for further research will also be outlined.

 

5.1 Discussion on Result Findings

Earlier in Chapter 1, it is highlighted that the study conducted in this dissertation has two objectives, namely: (a) to understand the attitudes of students towards the concepts of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) in Royal Holloway, University of London; and secondly, (b) to investigate the minimum numbers of factors that can parsimoniously characterize the perceptions of students on Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) in Royal Holloway, University of London. In the following paragraphs, discussions will be presented on how these objectives are already accomplished successfully.

Firstly, the attitudes of the management students that are studying in Royal Holloway, University of London are investigated through a review of the descriptive statistics generated from each of the research questions. The attitudes of the students towards each of the research question are clearly presented in table 4.4. To explain, those research questions with a higher score are deemed as important aspect to be adopted or followed by a supposedly Corporate Socially Responsible company. From the table, it is shown that the variable yielding the highest score is VAR00020. The variable is about companies should ensure environmental protection in acting in a socially responsible manner. This strongly suggests that the students believe that companies that exhibit Corporate Social responsibilities should and will ensure environmental protection. The second highest scoring variable is VAR00015, which is about if the company should ensure judicious use of natural resources. Then, the third highest scoring variable is VAR00005, which is about if the company should maintain ecological balance. The top three questions indicate that from the student perspectives, to act in a Corporate Social Responsible manner is highly associated with issues related to environmental protection and preservation. Then, the fourth highest scoring variable is VAR00025, which is about if the company should fulfill their responsibilities towards customers. Then, the fifth highest scoring variable sis VAR00038, which is about if a company, should adhere to law. This should be nothing surprising because to act in a Corporate Socially Responsible manner surely demand any company to firstly adhere to the respective rules and regulation governing the respective business and industry. Overall, it can be observed that the students perceive that a socially responsible company should somewhat responsible in preserving the environment, adoption of business ethics, taking care of the community, delivering benefits to the customers, following rules and regulation as well as to take good care of the employees. However, from the other side of the findings, it is found that the lowest scoring variable is VAR00034, which is about if the company should fulfill responsibilities towards suppliers. This somewhat indicates that the student may not be agree that a corporate socially responsible company should focus on fulfilling its responsibilities to the suppliers. This is perhaps from the customer centric perspectives; student may think that it is the suppliers that should act in a responsible manner to the company. Then, the second lowest variable is VAR00040, which is about if the company should act responsibly towards intermediaries. Last but not least, the third lowest scoring variable is VAR00036, is about if the company should fulfill responsibilities towards competitors. Apparently, the students under this study do not quite agree that a company should also act in a responsible manner towards competitors. Following such discussions, it is apparent that the student somehow perceive that a greater emphasize should be given to environment, customers, employees, and governmental agencies (i.e., laws). The students are found not to perceive the suppliers, intermediaries, and competitors as important as the other stakeholders. In short, according to the students’ opinions, not all stakeholders should be treated equally. Companies take act responsibly towards natural environment, customers, employees, and governmental agencies will be perceived as those companies that are socially responsible.

From another perspective, the second objective of this study is to investigate the minimum numbers of factors that can parsimoniously characterize the perceptions of students on Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) in Royal Holloway, University of London. For this, factor analysis had been performed, and a total of 10 factors are discovered. From the answers elicited from the management students in Royal Holloway, University of London, the ten crucial factors that may be reasonably used as the dimension to analyze issues related to CSR are as follow:

  1. Company’s responsibilities towards society
  2. The practice of business ethics
  3. Company’s responsibilities towards shareholders’ interests
  4. Company’s responsibilities towards natural environment and sustainability
  5. Company’s responsibilities towards other stakeholders
  6. Company’s responsibilities towards customers
  7. Health, safety and lifestyle
  8. Adoption of global norms and standards
  9. Company’s responsibilities towards employees
  10. Business environment and regulation

 

The results from these findings indicate that students’ perceptions on CSR can be a complicated one. There are many dimensions to be investigated to more fully understand the pertaining factors affecting student perceptions on CSR matters. Indeed, the questionnaires designed by other researchers seemingly are insufficient to be used to study the student perceptions on CSR. The most commonly used questionnaires, as those adopted by Alcaniz, Caceres and Perez (2010) or Chiu and Hsu (2010) concentrate only on the following dimensions: (a) Company’s responsibilities towards society, (b) The practice of business ethics, (c) Company’s responsibilities towards natural environment and sustainability, and (d) Company’s responsibilities towards customers. For example, the questionnaire used by Alcaniz, Caceres and Perez (2010) to investigate the CSR image of a particular brand (of a company) are as follow: (a) the company is aware of environmental matters; (b) the company fulfills its social responsibilities; (c) the company put something back to the community; (d) I believe that the company has the community interest in mind; (e) the company has been acting in a socially responsible manner; and (f) the company incorporate philanthropic activities into its business operations. Then, the questions adopted by Chiu and Hsu (2010) to study people perceptions on a company’s CSR images are: (a) the firm has good social responsibility; (b) the company has been carrying out environmental protection activities; (c) the firm has been contributing to the society; (d) the company has been paying attention to its influences on the society; (e) the company is found to sponsor educational and cultural activities frequently; (f) the company has been emphasizing on environmental protection; and (g) the firm focus a lot on charitable activities. On hindsight, the questions used by these researchers simply ignored certain dimensions of CSR, particularly to those related to responsibilities to other stakeholders such as shareholders, employees, suppliers, intermediaries, governmental agencies, or competitors. This indicate that their questionnaire design may need to be improved, before being utilized for other study, as from the research findings in this dissertation, a total of ten relevant factors can be found to characterize the student perceptions on CSR matters.

5.2 Limitations of the Research Design

There are several limitations of the types of research design conducted in this section. Firstly, this study is researching only on management students studying in Royal Holloway, University of London. The results do not imply that other students will have similar perceptions. Similarly, the study does not imply that other people may have similar perceptions on CSR matters.

Secondly, it should be acknowledged that the students’ attitude towards CSR may change from time to time. The ranking on the importance of certain dimensions towards CSR and the factors that can be generated from the answers from questionnaires may differ in the future.

5.3 Suggestion for Further Research

Overall, there are many limitations on this study. In fact, the study conducted in this dissertation can only serve as a preliminary study on perceptions of management students on CSR matters. There are many more studies that should be conducted to further understand how the different variables of factors may affect the student decision making process. Indeed, the many factors identified in this study, should be employed in more advance and in-depth study on students perceptions or understandings on CSR.

Thus, in the future, a new set of research question can be formulated. The ranking of a company from ethical and sincere adoption of CSR initiatives can be investigated in relation to the ten factors identified in this study. Specifically, a sample of famous companies can be selected. The degree of the perceptions by students if these companies are truly CSR compliance can be investigated by linking their perceptions on the ten factors pertaining to the respective companies. With this, it is possible to investigate reputation of the different firms from the different factors. Besides, it can also be investigated if the perception that a company is truly CSR compliance will affect the students’ intention to purchase from the company, to join the company, or to promote the company to their friends or family members.

It is also acknowledge that certain factors, such as to act responsibly towards competitors, suppliers, intermediaries and creditors are not perceived as important factors in adoption of CSR initiatives by a company (when compared to other factors or dimensions, such as to protect and preserve the natural environment and others). The real reason for such perception should be understood. This is because a truly ethical manager should, theoretically, act in responsible manner towards all stakeholders. It will be interesting to understand if such perceptions of students are caused by the teaching material used in the universities, or if they simply associate CSR initiatives to environmental protection, taking care of the society and the community only. Indeed, it is also possible that students having such perception due to the frequent promotion of companies claiming acting in a CSR compliance manner as the firm seriously contributing to the society and environmental protection.

Apart from that, it will also be useful to investigate the impacts of the teaching materials or course taught towards student perceptions and attitudes towards CSR. There are valid reasons to speculate, based on the findings on this study that students seemingly associate CSR to issues related to environmental protection and contribution to society. It is possible that most of the materials are organized in a way to stressing the necessity of a company to contribute to the society or to the environmental protection.

Last but not least, the ten factors identified can also be used as the reference to design research questions to investigate people perceptions on CSR related matters. For example, studies on customer perceptions towards CSR reputation of a particular firm can be organized. Not only is that, the different factors can also be used to study employees perception on their own company. The people perceptions on CSR related matters can be investigated in relation to their motivation or intension. The real benefits from adoption of CSR by a firm to affecting customers, employees, students’ perceptions of behaviors can be further investigated. Indeed, it is possible to identify the very few areas that a company should act accordingly to be perceived as a highly ethical and CSR compliance firm by people.

 

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