Handbook of Research on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Edited by Elizabeth Chell and Mine Karataş-Özkan

This insightful Handbook focuses on behaviour, performance and relationships in small and entrepreneurial firms. It introduces a variety of contemporary topics, research methods and theoretical frameworks that will provide cutting edge analysis, stimulate thought, raise further questions and demonstrate the complexity of the rapidly-advancing field of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 20: Business ethics and social responsibility in small firms

Laura J. Spence


The complex role of business in society has never been purely commercial, and managing within business similarly has a social structure (Goss, 1990). With everything from familial obligation, community involvement and philanthropy to government policy enacted through the practices in small and large organizations alike, business is as much a part of society as any other organizational or institutional form, being an embedded 'interpenetrating system' (Muthuri, Moon & Idemudia, 2012). Despite small business being a technical and social activity (Kitching, 1994: 115), the social and ethical aspects of entrepreneurship and small firms are frequently overlooked, despite their importance (Fuller & Tian, 2006). Nevertheless, there is an emerging literature dispersed through a range of disciplines which addresses this perspective. These include perspectives from economics, sociology, management studies, applied moral philosophy, corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship, geography, development studies and political science (see Table 20.1). In this chapter, a state of the art review of this literature is presented and two moral perspectives are discussed in detail as meaningful theoretical lenses through which to understand the social and ethical aspects of small business. The research presented contributes to the literature in two ways. First, it brings together the small business, entrepreneurship, business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR) literatures more even-handedly than other work has done, and secondly, it offers an original contribution by using the review to identify theoretical avenues for future size-sensitive, ethics and social responsibility studies.

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