oa Journal of Management & Administration - Business owners’ ethical values and social responsibility in Kwazulu-Natal’s small and medium enterprises

Volume 2019 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1728-9157



The KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa was founded on a strong cultural background which drives behaviour in society as well as Small and Medium Enterprise businesses that emerge from the region. The depth and strength of business ethics practices in these enterprises may vary by family and village across the region. However, social responsibility behaviour and actions of Small and Medium Enterprise businesses in KwaZulu-Natal over the years have proved to be intertwined with the owners’ ethical values rather than professional values. The study aimed at exploring the perceived role of Small and Medium Enterprise business owners’ ethical values in relation to the practice of social responsibility in KwaZulu-Natal. Results were attained through assessing attitude levels towards Social Responsibility; assessing the impact of ethical values on Social Responsibility and exploring the barriers undermining Social Responsibility. A mixed methods approach was adopted where data was obtained using self-administered questionnaires and face-to-face interviews. Results showed that the majority of the respondents had an opposing view of personal values towards Social Responsibility. Business owners’ ethical values undermine the practice of Social Responsibility, and that Small and Medium Enterprises believed their ethical values were not vital to the practice and implementation of Social Responsibility in their business. As new knowledge, a model framework is driven by the Stakeholder Theory focussing on the owners’ legacy, which was proposed to motivate and ethically guide owners into positively embracing Social Responsibility in their businesses. The study recommends that the chambers of commerce, local municipalities and business leaders proactively encourage Small and Medium Enterprises to practise Social Responsibility through awareness workshops.

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