Online from: 2005
Subject Area: Business Ethics and Law
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|Title:||Altruism in business – an empirical study of philanthropy in the small business context|
|Author(s):||Merja Lähdesmäki, (Researcher at University of Helsinki, Seinäjoki, Finland), Tuomo Takala, (Professor of Management at University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)|
|Citation:||Merja Lähdesmäki, Tuomo Takala, (2012) "Altruism in business – an empirical study of philanthropy in the small business context", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 8 Iss: 3, pp.373 - 388|
|Keywords:||Altruism, Business ethics, Corporate philanthropy, Owner-manager, Small businesses|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/17471111211247947 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine corporate philanthropy from the perspective of small business owner-managers to find out whether there is room for altruism in business life.
Design/methodology/approach – This study is based on 25 thematic interviews with small business owner-managers. The data analysis is based on a method of qualitative content analysis.
Findings – Based on the analysis, it is shown that reactivity, an emphasis on personal interests, the willingness to utilize philanthropy as part of marketing and lack of planning are typical of philanthropy in the small business context. Small businesses often emphasize strategic business reasons as the main motive for their philanthropic engagements. Nevertheless, in some cases the philanthropic decisions are based on mere willingness to contribute to the welfare of others. Thus, the paper suggests that there is room for altruism in the small business context. The existence of altruism in the context of small business philanthropy is closely related to owner-managers' values and business ambitions. Indeed, the organizational context does not usually hinder the existence of altruism to any great extent among small businesses, as it might do in the large business context. Similarly, based on the results of this study, the authors suggest that close relationships between a small business and its stakeholders increase the probability of altruism in business.
Research limitations/implications – It is acknowledged that corporate philanthropy is but one possible context in which to study altruism.
Originality/value – The study provides useful information on whether there is room for altruism in business life from the perspective of small business owner-managers.
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