The management of corporate social responsibility through projects : a more economically developed country perspective

Al-Reyasha, Meera and Pinnington, Ashly H. and Karatas-Ozkan, Mine and Nicolopoulou, Katerina (2019) The management of corporate social responsibility through projects : a more economically developed country perspective. Business Strategy and Development.

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    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an increasingly influential concept, claimed to be implemented more in the West than in the Gulf Cooperation Community (GCC) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where CSR is often portrayed as less developed and mainly philanthropic. The research reported in this paper investigates capacity building for CSR in organizations and examines the research question as to whether the project management of CSR can contribute to increasing levels of awareness, engagement, and implementation. The empirical study therefore examines the management of CSR through projects and consists of data analysed from 29 interviews conducted during 2011–2016 with CSR representatives for organizations operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is a member of the GCC, located in the MENA region, and categorized as a more economically developed country. The findings reveal evidence supporting the argument that organizations with capabilities in the project management of CSR are in the position to develop capacities for strategic CSR. This empirical analysis of CSR capacity development across varying degrees of sophistication in the project management of CSR activities implies a more developed stage of CSR engagement, at least in the sample of organizations studied, than is expressed in the extant literature on CSR in the UAE, and elsewhere in the MENA region. The use of project management to organize, implement, align, and monitor CSR activity supports capacity development in CSR and can contribute to its sustainability. We recommend that future research examines the political, business, and institutional factors that could further develop CSR in organizations when managed through projects.