Purpose – This study examines the strategies of an Italian family business in the early 20th century, comparing its practices and ideals with the concepts associated with social responsibility theory as developed from the 1950s onwards. Because Italy was a family-based economy during the period of study (1927-51), the experiences explored in this case study allow the drawing of comparisons with contemporary circumstances in the emerging world. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on the public reports and published histories of the Marzotto company, this historical case study provides a reconstruction of the pioneering social strategy of this Italian family business. In doing so, it highlights how the firm’s practices shared both similarities and differences with the concepts that have emerged in the social responsibility literature. Findings – This article argues that the practice of “social responsibility” in family-based companies differ from that usually associated with SR in that they stem not from pressure from stakeholders but from voluntary and discretional acts by the business owner. This study also calls into question the concept of “social” responsibility by highlighting different understanding of “society” and “social”. With respect to Marzotto, “social” responsility was directed towards – and restricted to - the local level and the limited groups of stakeholders found within this local setting. Practical implications – By highlighting the different understandings of “social responsibility” that can exist in family-based economies, this study questions both the meaning of “social responsibility” and the ways in which it is implemented in family-based economies. Originality/value – The research explores social responsibility in a context that differs from the corporate setting traditionally associated with CSR.

Social responsibility in practice: an Italian case from the early 20th century

Leoni G
2017

Abstract

Purpose – This study examines the strategies of an Italian family business in the early 20th century, comparing its practices and ideals with the concepts associated with social responsibility theory as developed from the 1950s onwards. Because Italy was a family-based economy during the period of study (1927-51), the experiences explored in this case study allow the drawing of comparisons with contemporary circumstances in the emerging world. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on the public reports and published histories of the Marzotto company, this historical case study provides a reconstruction of the pioneering social strategy of this Italian family business. In doing so, it highlights how the firm’s practices shared both similarities and differences with the concepts that have emerged in the social responsibility literature. Findings – This article argues that the practice of “social responsibility” in family-based companies differ from that usually associated with SR in that they stem not from pressure from stakeholders but from voluntary and discretional acts by the business owner. This study also calls into question the concept of “social” responsibility by highlighting different understanding of “society” and “social”. With respect to Marzotto, “social” responsility was directed towards – and restricted to - the local level and the limited groups of stakeholders found within this local setting. Practical implications – By highlighting the different understandings of “social responsibility” that can exist in family-based economies, this study questions both the meaning of “social responsibility” and the ways in which it is implemented in family-based economies. Originality/value – The research explores social responsibility in a context that differs from the corporate setting traditionally associated with CSR.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
JMH.pdf

accesso chiuso

Tipologia: Documento in versione editoriale
Dimensione 243.42 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
243.42 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/946718
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 6
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 6
social impact