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Corporate Social Responsibility in Construction

Brief Article Summary

Purpose: Barthorpe (2010) aimed to evaluate the need for implementing effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the construction industry and determining how these efforts are being put into work in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach: the review of the literature was the main tool for collecting relevant information on the topic of CSR in the UK construction industry.

Findings: it was found that despite the recent critiques of the construction industry CSR efforts, UK companies that work in the sphere made significant community contributions.

Research limitations/implications: Barthorpe (2010) concluded that the key barrier was the limited sample of construction organizations the examples of which could be evaluated.

Practical implications: based on the examples of companies’ successful CSR implementation, other construction businesses in the UK can add value to communities that their operations affect.

Originality/value: the research provided a historical overview of relevant articles on the topic of CSR, which has gained tremendous attention in recent years due to the need for businesses to engage in altruistic actions.

Positive Critique: Strengths

Barthorpe’s (2010) research article shed light on corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a fundamental practice targeted at enhancing the efforts of businesses in supporting environmental sustainability, maintaining business ethics, preserving positive relations with the public, as well as showing effective organizational governance. In the construction industry, CSR is of special importance because all businesses that operate in this sphere have direct relations with communities since they occupy land and complete their work through the use of that land. In the context of the United Kingdom, CSR efforts are guided by the International strategic framework into corporate social responsibility (launched in 2005). The policy is important for companies to consider because it is targeted at guiding discussions about the introduction of effective actions both on domestic and international levels.

The scholar provided a historical overview of reporting and incorporating CSR into UK businesses. Based on his review, the first account of CSR dates back to 1776 when the owners of a cotton mill provided their local communities with the housing of high quality, schools, healthcare, and chapels. This event gave a start for future developments in CSR thus encouraging businesses to be accountable for the communities with which they interact. In Barthorpe’s (2010) review of major CSR events, the introduction of the Operating and Financial Review is the last development, which required companies to report their information on environmental performance, issues with employees, supplier relationships, local factors, and so on. Overall, the article was effective in showing that CSR is a crucial component of construction companies’ relationships with communities.

Negative Critique: Weaknesses

In the review of CSR-related activities among UK construction companies, Barthorpe (2010) only mentioned ten contractors. While these businesses showed their interest in maintaining good relations with the public and contributing to communities, the majority of these examples revolved around charitable work. For instance, such contractors as George Wimpe, Mitie Group, Lovell Partnerships, Carillion, and Interserve all reported their support for local charities. While these examples are commendable, it could have been more effective for the scholar to provide a wider sample of case studies and include more cases of UK contractors that engage in environmental sustainability efforts because of the rising importance of this issue.

The author of the article has structured his research into themes such as “introducing corporate social responsibility, incorporating and reporting corporate social responsibility, and implementing corporate social responsibility” (Barthorpe, 2010, p. 15). Despite the fact that these themes were explored in great detail, the scholar did not provide a cohesive framework in the form of recommendations as to how UK construction companies could use CSR to strengthen their competitiveness while giving back to communities. A recommendation section is lacking because it could have shown Barthorpe’s (2010) understanding of beneficial CSR practices.

Importance for the Society

Corporate social responsibility as a framework of purposeful actions for enhancing the prosperity of communities that interact with businesses is an important part of preserving good relationships between companies and the public. The article by Barthorpe (2010) underlined the need for construction companies in the UK to implement successful CSR practices in order to consider community stakeholders and raising social and environmental awareness. With the rapid changes in technological development, all modern businesses have to engage in effective CSR efforts to enhance internal capabilities as well as the overall contexts in which they operate (Nwagbara & Reid, 2013). As evidenced by the examples of such companies as Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Mills, PepsiCo, and multiple others, the modern society needs corporations to establish clear policies on “human rights and environmental management, active stakeholder engagement and disclosure – in many cases also have strong results on greenhouse gas emissions,” as reported by Confino (2014) for The Guardian (para. 4). Overall, the article aligned with the current trends in CSR development and highlighted its importance regarding operating within the construction industry.

References

Barthorpe, S. (2010) Implementing corporate social responsibility in the UK construction industry. Property Management, 28(1), 4-17.

Confino, J. (2014). Best practices in sustainability: Ford, Starbucks and more. The Guardian. Web.

Nwagbara, U., & Reid, P. (2013). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and management trends: Changing times and changing strategies. Economic Insights – TRENDS and Challenges, 2(2), 12-19.