An evaluation of the effectiveness of adopting Corporate Social Responsibility as a business strategy to gain competitive advantage amongst Commercial Banks in Zimbabwe
Dzeka, Tendayi P.
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a hot topic in today’s business with varied and broad definition. Various CSR theories have been used to explain the concept as a strategic tool to gain competitive advantage and stakeholder theory has been argued to be at the center for the strategic intent and competitiveness. This main objective of this study is to see how commercial banks in Zimbabwe deal with corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their strategies to gain competitive advantage. This study however, using the qualitative approach explore how CSR activities can be used as a strategic necessity or a tool to gain competitive advantage. Different views are gathered from in-depth semi-structured interviews .Further to this ,the study explore CSR as a tool to gain competitiveness using the resource based view that is whether the organization’s resources are said to be valuable, rare, inimitable and organizational (VRIO )framework. A multi case study approach for 10 banks from the same industry was used and data was collected using semi structured interviews and analyses using content and cross case analysis. Main findings from the research conclude that CSR is linked to competitive advantage, strategic necessity and is rooted in the organizations’ belief systems and values. Further to this, the findings reveal a detailed grouping of sources of strategic necessity and competitive advantage. Findings reveal that there is need for commercial banks in Zimbabwe to consider CSR seriously and integrate such activities to organization’s core business for such activities to yield competitive advantage and strategic necessity. For this integration to work, shareholders and the board need to be involved and should develop a culture and CSR policies which support organization‘s CSR practices. CSR being open minded in nature and difficult to operationalize CSR activities should be seen as integrated and not separated from the environment. The ultimate research goal is to guide commercial banks to be strategic whenever they adopt CSR so that such activities are beneficial to the organizations. The research conclusion reveal that banks need to adopt the integrated approach through considering the social, environmental ,ethical and economic aspects into their strategies for long term benefits and sustainability.