The literature on social business behaviour has proliferated in recent years, mainly examining CSR of firms in developed economies (Brammer, Jackson, & Matten, 2012; Campbell, 2007; Carroll & Shabana, 2010; Crouch, 2006; Matten & Crane, 2005), with definitions of social business behaviour now being plentiful (Dahlsrud, 2008). More recently assumptions about CSR and why firms engage in such practices has been challenged by the study of social business behaviour in emerging market contexts such as Russia, China, Pakistan, or Mexico (Blasco & Zølner, 2010; Crotty, 2014; Li & Zhang, 2010; Lund-Thomsen, Lindgreen, & Vanhamme, 2014; Muller & Kolk, 2010; Zhao, 2012). In particular this research illustrates the need for contextualising social business behaviour (Crotty, 2014; Dahlsrud, 2008) because in such contexts they are often part of a firms wider legitimisation activities (Kuznetsov, Kuznetsova, & Warren, 2009; Zhao, 2012).
Frequently firms use engagement in social business behaviours to avert other more restrictive regulations, for example taxation or environmental protection regulation (Crotty, 2014). The different utilisation of social business behaviours by firms in such contexts suggests that their study can provide us with an important insight into emerging market multinationals. Further, it raises the question as to whether firms from such contexts increasingly internationalising (Luo & Tung, 2007) will ‘export’ or how they will adjust such behaviours as part of accessing foreign markets.
Therefore, further research of social business behaviour is required to extend our theoretical understanding of such practices in emerging market multinationals. The post-soviet environment, and in particular Russia, provides a relevant and novel context to study social business behaviour. Social business behaviour of Russian firms can be traced back to their role in the communist economic system where they were much more then employers (Kornai, 1992). Firms were part of the state welfare provision and responsible for making a significant contribution to the local social infrastructure, such as running or supporting hospitals or building and maintaining playgrounds (Kornai, 1992). In turn firms are likely to have ingrained traditions and capabilities of engaging in social business behaviours without necessarily qualifying them as such. Therefore this project would examine the type and reasons for social business behaviour amongst Russian firms and whether they are part of their ‘business model’ (i.e. part of their competitive advantage and potentially exportable as part of their internationalisations) or specifically developed for their home context. In order to explore this question, the project will address the following objectives:
- Developing a classification social business behaviours for the Russian context - Establishing the strategic importance of social business behaviour in Russian firms - Examining the role of social business behaviour in internationalisation decisions of Russian firms
In order to study social business behaviour in Russian firms and be able to address the strategic role of such behaviours a qualitative approach will be required. Thus, data will need to be collected via documentation available from organisations, interviews with individuals in participating organisations, and observation of strategy practices in participating organisations. A more detailed data collection strategy will be developed as the project progresses.