Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 463–475 | Cite as

Implementing Responsible Business Behavior from a Strategic Management Perspective: Developing a Framework for Austrian SMEs



This paper contributes to a growing body of literature analyzing the social responsibilities of SMEs (Sarbutts, 2003, Journal of Communication Management 7(4), 340–347; Castka et al., 2004, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 11, 140–149; Enderle, 2004, Business Ethics: A European Review 14(1), 51–63; Fuller and Tian, 2006, Journal of Business Ethics 67, 287–304; Jenkins, 2006, Journal of Business Ethics 67, 241–256; Lepoutre and Heene, 2006, Journal of Business Ethics 67, 257–273; Roberts, 2003, Journal of Business Ethics 44(2), 159–170; Williamson et al., 2006, Journal of Business Ethics 67, 317–330) by designing a conceptual framework based on the Strategic Management Theory, which links social issues to the creation of sustained competitive advantages for SMEs. Firstly, the paper reviews literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and especially on the creation of social capital for SMEs. An exploration of Strategic Management Theory follows, focusing on the Positioning and Competence Based Schools, with the objective to find an answer to the question: how do social and environmental issues fit in the logic of creation of competitive advantage and what role do they play during strategic planning? The contributions of Hart (natural resourced based view) and Porter and Kramer (development of strategic intent in social responsible actions) are then related to the framework of possible growth paths of SMEs (Hong and Jeong, 2006, Journal of Enterprise Information Management 19(3), 292–302) in order to answer this question. Strategies that could trigger or lever these growth paths are then discussed. Following the recommendation Thompson and Smith (1991, Journal of Small Business Management 29(1), 30–44) gave to focus on the “study of CSR behaviors instead of perceptions,” a medium-sized Austrian company in the food producing industry has been identified for an exploratory case study analysis to test the applicability of␣this theoretical framework for the description of the actual responsible business behavior (RBB) of an SME. This company is typical of one of the 250.000 SMEs which account for 99.6% of the Austrian economy. Based on the findings and the discussion, this paper presents a strategic planning tool for SMEs aiming to embed RBB into the corporate strategy.


Austria competitive advantage CSR Responsible Business Behavior SMEs value chain analysis 


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Research for this study was funded by the “Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds” (Scientific Fund of Tyrol).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MCI – Management Center InnsbruckUniversity of Applied SciencesInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.xpand austriaInnsbruckAustria

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