“Corporate social responsibility” across Middle East and North Africa
A vivid debate is taking place across the world questioning the social role of business and balance of power between institutions. This paper attempts to synthesise the reports prepared by various authors, who live and work in their homeland in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), on the notion of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR).
The paper clarifies that the drivers for CSR may be determined outside the system, such as CSR practices of multinational companies, regulations imposed upon by international agreements, work of NGOs, academic research etc.
The author finds that CSR, in the MENA context, is a generic notion that can fit different purposes in different contexts. Conclusions are that:
- macroeconomic stability induces ethical behaviour; it establishes the moral authority of the governments and improves their law enforcement capability
- economic development accompanied by opening up to international competition accelerates the convergence of business cultures may partially neutralise the local societal cultural characteristics unsupportive of CSR
- in this sense, encouraging Muslim women to be active in social life as demanding customers will dramatically improve the role society plays in driving the business
- in the same way, supporting the education of women in the MENA has been reported as one of the preferred themes of philanthropy in the region
Furthermore, the document points that it will take some time before the local societies will play a significant role in driving the CSR in the region. This change will involve a shift in values towards universal values, a process which will continue to be driven by democratisation and globalisation.