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Small business social responsibility: the CSR4UTOOL web application

Laura Corazza

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 2018, vol. 19, issue 3, 383-400

Abstract: Purpose - Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) positively represent the backbone of the European economic system and, negatively, they make a significant contribution to environmental pollution and social impacts. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how a new tool for supporting the adoption of small business social responsibility (SBSR) can be tailored in order to be more effective. Design/methodology/approach - Theoretical framework – a literature analysis of how SMEs address sustainability issues will be discussed, especially the need for SME tools with the following features: quality, materiality, free of charge, anonymous, easy-to-use and easy to understand. This need has been confirmed by the literature of SBSR and also social accounting doctrine. Methodology – this paper analyzes CSR4UTOOL, an applied research project of a web-based application dedicated to SMEs in order to provide a self-assessment on sustainability performances. A technical paper aims to describe a specific development, technique or procedure that is capable of presenting a software tool or an experimental or computational method that should be well-tested and should preferably provide a solution to a problem and have some demonstrable practical values. Findings - The recent studies over SBSR sustain the need of sustainability management tool for SMEs. A web-based tool co-designed and co-created with SMEs reveals the importance of new tools to support SBSR, especially for the global process of CSR downstreaming using a bottom-up perspective. Research limitations/implications - Alongside the development of tailored, efficient tools to implement, manage, control and account for such social responsibilities, several authors have described organizational implications, managerial adaptations and practical features of such tools. As a technical paper, the aim of this research is to shed light on the new technology that has been adopted to solve a gap in both the literature and the real economy, and it answers to the specific call for SBSR tools. Practical implications - CSR4UTOOL is based on a decision tree structure presenting several questions and indicators given by a profound benchmark of the most internationally well-known accountability standards. It translates accounting and non-accounting data as well as qualitative and quantitative data to a powerful source of information for entrepreneurs regarding their ethical and moral managerial conduct. A report on the performance of the company will be generated at the end of each session. Social implications - This study has a practical social implication as it may concretely help entrepreneurs to self-assess their SBSR. IT technologies may represent a useful way to overcome the specific constraints on SMEs that when they are on track, they may also be more aware of the existent power of formalization in their social and environmental management practices. This kind of tool may help small entrepreneurs to be more aware of the fact that formalization may represent a strategic asset rather than a guarantee of morality. Originality/value - This paper contributes to the literature by demonstrating how data collection over SBSR may be engineered and tailored using web application and ICT, even in a context of small businesses. This paper further responds to a call from Spence (2016) and Johnson

Keywords: CSR; Social and environmental reporting; Sustainability; Small and medium-sized companies; Web tool (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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