Qatar vs. UK: Consumers’ CSR Awareness

Abstract

The main aim of the study is to compare the level of consumers’ CSR Awareness in an Emerging Market (Qatar) versus a Developed Market (UK. The approach among the consumers towards the concept of corporate social responsibility is identified, analyzed and compared with these two countries. Corporate social responsibility is analyzing and researching the business and the impact created by the business on the country’s economy. The importance of this concept has been assessed and understood from various literature that is given by different authors.

The general problems and the issues in the CSR are identified and the main objective of the study of the dissertation is to get a clear picture of the corporate social responsibility and the attitude of the consumers towards it. The thesis mainly depends on how the developed and the developing countries depend on the economies and how they have an influence on corporate social responsibility practices. The research methodology is used in the study is primary and secondary research. The primary research is done with the questionnaire and the internet is used in the mailing of the questionnaire, the 100 samples are used for the research and the qualitative methods are used for the analysis, the questionnaire consisted of close-ended and open-ended questions for the detailed information from the responded. The in-depth survey is conducted to know the students on the complete dissertation.

Introduction

Corporate Social Responsibility is also often referred to as corporate citizenship and is classified as a responsible business practice. This is because of the fact that Corporate Social Responsibility serves as an internally placed system that seeks to modify the perception that consumers have about the subject organization. Generally Corporate Social Responsibility is exercised by active engagement in measures that promote the social well-being of the society. It is for the same reason that the exercising of Corporate Social Responsibility is often considered to be an example of adherence to Business Ethics principles and is encouraged by governments and ethics institutions.

The essence of Corporate Social Responsibility therefore comes forth in the perusal of public interest on the part of commercial organizations. By doing so, organizations aim to develop good will through which they can acquire profits in the long run. “The entirety of CSR can be discerned from the three words contained within its title phrase: ‘corporate,’ ‘social,’ and ‘responsibility.’ Therefore, in broad terms, CSR covers the responsibilities corporations (or other for-profit organizations) have to the societies within which they are based and operate. More specifically, CSR involves a business identifying its stakeholder groups and incorporating their needs and values within the strategic and day-to-day decision-making process. Therefore, a business’ ‘society’ within which it operates, which defines the number of stakeholders to which the organization has a ‘responsibility,’ may be broad or narrow depending on the industry in which the firm operates and its perspective” (University of Miami – Ethics Program 2005). “Corporate social responsibility consists in the companies themselves defining, unilaterally and voluntarily, social and environmental policies by means of alternative instruments that are neither collective agreements nor legislation, and offering, in pursuit of these aims, partnerships to multiple actors” (Fonteneau 2003).

Corporate Social Responsibility allows companies to take on a form of development through which does not only benefit their corporate profile. Through engagement in corporate social responsibility, companies are able to contribute to the development of the society by taking on responsibility for the development of the society. The productivity in the exercising of Corporate Social Responsibility comes forth in the fact that it serves to create an undeniable degree of good will across consumers and eventually encourages consumers to purchase the product. More specifically, “can differentiate their brands and reputations, as well as their products and services, if they take responsibility for the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate. These companies are practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a manner that generates significant returns to their businesses” (Pohle and Hittner 2008).

It is apparent from this introductory elaboration of Corporate Social Responsibility that Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of social engagement in which the organization becomes heavily interactive with the consumer, thereby placing an extensive degree of reliance on consumer perception of Corporate Social Responsibility. In cases where the consumer perception with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility is one that is unfavourable towards the subject organization or to Corporate Social Responsibility in general, the Corporate Social Responsibility efforts may go in vain and the organization may end up experiencing a backlash instead of the development of good will and acquiring higher returns from consumers. In this regard, while an extensive degree of literature is present on Corporate Social Responsibility, there is very little that attempts to explore the implications of the perceptions that consumers hold upon Corporate Social Responsibility.

A supplementing area of relevance in this regard is the fact that consumers perceptions with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility may differ extensively, and it would therefore be reasonable to understand that the nature of the economy is a prime determinant of the Corporate Social Responsibility perceptions that prevail across consumers. In this regard, this research shall attempt to contribute to the discussion of Corporate Social Responsibility as perceived by consumers and shall study it in the frame of reference of different economies.

Problems and issues (General information) with examples

Corporate Social Responsibility may be a form of societal marketing in which modern day organizations are choosing to engage in rapidly. However, there is no rule-of-thumb that organizations can make use of since the sizes and natures of economies have been known to have serious implications upon Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. An implementation of a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy in a developed consumer market may yield different results when compared to the results that would be acquired in the event that the same Corporate Social Responsibility strategy was used in an underdeveloped or an emerging market. In this regard, it becomes imperative to adequately judge consumer perceptions in an economy before a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy can be launched and exercised.

Aims and objectives

The objective of the dissertation is to acquire a clear perception of Corporate Social Responsibility as it is influenced by consumers in differing economies.

Thesis Statement

Consumer perceptions of organizations in developed and developing economies vary significantly and this difference between different types of economies causes a significant degree of influence on Corporate Social Responsibility practices.

Approach and methodology

The study shall take on a research approach that will bring together primary and secondary sources to determine the authenticity of the thesis statement. The secondary research shall contribute to the exploratory aspect of the research and the understanding acquired through the secondary research shall assist in the development of the primary data collection instrument. Once the primary data collection instrument has been implemented, the data collected shall be analyzed and evaluated in light of trends and tendencies to contrast it with findings from the secondary research.

Literature Review

Introduction

This section would be holding the main concepts, definitions, ideas, elements and everything which are related to evaluate and compare the level of consumers’ corporate social responsibility awareness in the emerging market of Qatar and the developed market ok the United Kingdom. The key task here is to compare the definitions and interpretation of corporate social responsibility and to trace its evolvement from historic perspective. Moreover, international practices of corporate social responsibility would be described in different regions of the world where the tenets of corporate social responsibility are implemented. Apart from that, current policies of corporate social responsibility would be examined in the countries of Qatar and the United Kingdom as case study of this dissertation.

Framework for Review

In this section of literature review, we would discuss the main literature on the basis of which this dissertation would be carried out. The main topics which would be included in this section are:

  • Understanding corporate social responsibility
  • Benefits of corporate social responsibility
  • Motivation factors of corporate social responsibility
  • Common issues of corporate social responsibility
  • Understanding consumers’ corporate social responsibility awareness

Why corporate social responsibility is important?

  • Impact of corporate social responsibility
  • Corporate social responsibility and financial performance
  • Measurement of corporate social responsibility activities
  • Effect of media on corporate social responsibility

Understanding consumer behaviour:

  • Changing consumer behaviour
  • Case study – Level of consumers’ CSR awareness in an emerging market of Qatar versus a developed market of UK
  • Conclusion

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility

According to the illustration of Keinert (2008); the term corporate social responsibility is also known as Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Responsible Business (SRB), Responsible Business, or Corporate Citizenship. Basically, corporate social responsibility refers to the organization’s communication and dealing with the common public in common and its accountabilities to the culture in general as a whole. Therefore, the main motive of corporate social responsibility is to acquire profit-making achievement and success through by implementing positive practices that could endorse general safety and wellbeing for the consumers. The need for corporate social responsibility is required by all the businesses because it leads them to profitable revenues and good reputation. After all, profit is not all what the business needs to survive in the market; good reputation is also one main concern that leads them to success over other competitors in the marketplace. Corporate social responsibility adds to the value of company’s assets and helps in achieving success not only for the organization, but also for the consumers, employees, team workers, communities, general public, stakeholders, and global environment. Protecting environment and making safe measures for its prevention is yet another important responsibility of organizations because their production and manufacturing processes could add to the pollution of the environment that could be harmful for the environment and the upcoming generations. Additionally, the management of organizations is also accountable to work for general public promotion and welfare by supporting society augmentation and improvement (Hopkins, 2007).

Benefits of Corporate social responsibility

The potential organizational advantages of carrying out corporate social responsibility are different for different organizations in different regions of the world and are difficult to be measured properly. Every organization enjoys different advantages from corporate social responsibility and invests differently from different perspectives. However, some common benefits shared by business potentials can be listed as under (Hond et al, 2007):

  • Risk Management – Managing risk is the key strategy of every business. Companies spend a huge amount of money on how to recover and protect themselves from risks and threats. Risk management can help the company save its work, reputation and finance as well.
  • License to Operate – Organizations tend to work freely without the hurdles of taxation or regulations. Therefore, they step ahead and inform the government and the general public that they are taking all measures to ensure safety and health by following corporate social responsibility measures.
  • Human Resources – The proper following and implementation could lead the company in accurate and revenue generating recruitment of new staff while retaining the old customer base, especially in the competitive marketplace. The employee management becomes easier and the management becomes close to the people to listen to their needs and requirements appropriately.
  • Brand Differentiation Nowadays, companies strive to attain a reputable place in the marketplace among its competitors. It is not possible every time and not every company succeeds in getting to this unique position. However, brand differentiation help organizations to strive in the marketplace while maintaining their unique posture from other competitors.

Motivation Factors of Corporate social responsibility

There are some highly encouraging factors that motivate companies and their managements to implement corporate social responsibility practices. These common factors are listed in the following (Belal, 2008):

  • Awareness and Education for General Welfare – Previously, it was the common role of investors and stakeholders to get together and pressurize their invested company to implement and follow certain rules. This practice pays off very well when it comes to pressurize the particular company to behave responsibly and go through the practices of corporate social responsibility.
  • Principled Customization – There has been an increase in the principled consumerism in since the last two decades and it is entirely due to corporate social responsibility that leads the organizations to face the fact of increasing population and to work within the limited resources available to them while providing maximum customer services. This helps the companies to achieve good reputation and high rate of customer satisfaction level.
  • Law and Regulation Factor Government plays the most important role for the companies to go through proper practices of corporate social responsibility because they help the organizations to work under certain safe regulations that ensure perfect product quality, customer services and healthy environment not only for the consumers but also for the general welfare. Law and regulation factor enable the organizations to perform their duties with responsibility because it is their sole priority to serve the consumers not only with the high level of standards and quality, but also with the safest environment possible.
  • Shareholder Precedence – As compared to before, businesses have become more responsible and interact socially than before because they care for their customers and their stakeholders who expect their related companies to provide the best possible. Corporate social responsibility enable the companies to listen to their customers and stakeholders, understand their demands, address them particularly, and act according to the best way possible by following the rules of corporate social responsibility.
  • Training of Ethics – The training of ethics is yet another reason that increased the level of awareness of corporate social responsibility among organizations, consumers, and employees. Ethics training has become a mandatory regulation in some of the countries where it is essential for every company to carry out trainings and sessions for better results.
  • Globalization and Marketplace Organizations ought to face new challenges when they come up with the globalization factor. This encourages the organizations and their management to go through corporate social responsibility practices in order to introduce them in the global marketplace and to earn good reputation around the world. Some researchers, philosophers and companies’ heads consider it as another cost burden on the shoulder of the company’s expenses, but eventually, it pays them back with huge revenues and good reputation as well.
  • Catastrophes and Their Results Implementing corporate social responsibility measures within a company may cost the company heavily in great lose. This is because of the fact that it might be risky and very costly to make sure that the product offered to consumers would be safe and secure. In case, if the product is not; then the company would have to recall and repair the product again, which might cause lose to the company’s annual revenue generation. For example, if a company sells plastic toys and uses lead as a main ingredient in painting it. It might turn out to be a huge loses when the company would repair the toys so that they could become harmless for the consumers to use.

Common issues of corporate social responsibility

(Yakovleva, 2005) There are some common problems of corporate social responsibility that are faced by the organizations usually. These problems are listed as under (Hond et al, 2007):

  • Costs and benefits involved in applying corporate social responsibility varies from industry to industry because of the different environmental, social, economic, performance, and development factors
  • The size of the organization also maters in applying corporate social responsibility. The bigger the organization, the more cost is required to invest in the proper implementation process
  • There are major differences between different corporate social responsibility inventiveness and these various processes produce different range of cost and benefits involved with them
  • The term corporate social responsibility applies different to different people in different places in different fields
  • At times, it becomes complicated to calculate the costs involved in the process of corporate social responsibility, that is why many organizations never bother to carry it out
  • The factor of costs and benefits are totally different from one another because cost has to be paid instantly, where the company could enjoy benefits after a long time

Understanding consumers’ corporate social responsibility awareness

(Perrini et al, 2006) Over the last several decades, many organizations have paid extra attention and emphasis on improving their corporate social responsibility so that they could enhance their working environment, working conditions, increase motivation among employees, and gain trust from their customers that the company cares for them, their families, safety and environment. Corporate social responsibility can bring real social changing on global basis; but it cannot be brought through one single organization because it need to be implemented by several companies around the world so that it could contribute to global general welfare overall. It is the basic demand for every business worldwide to implement functional corporate social responsibility since it has become consumer demand globally as they are becoming aware of what actually corporate social responsibility adds to general welfare (May et al, 2007).

Frederick (2006) narrates that nowadays, consumers are more aware of everything going around as compare to previously. They fully know what should be done and what their basic requirements are. The present consumers have advanced level of higher than regular community-recognition, high level education, and environmental awareness and they know what kind of products could be hazardous for the health, environment, and general welfare while its production process. That is why, they choose to pick such products and services that causes as less as possible hazards to the general public and environment as possible. The local customers have a common understanding of the corporate performance and activities that is the reason why they demand for getting highest level of corporate social responsibility from the corporate sector so that it could add value to the general welfare and environment without causing harm to anyone anywhere in the world. usually, the basic things require by the consumers consists of product quality, product selection, variety of range, location, product price, atmosphere provided to the customers, customer service, social and environmental responsibility provided by the company. This shows that consumers are not always attracted towards the location of the stores, but their preferences have been changing with the passage of time as they know how to react towards better quality, product price, atmosphere, product location, product variety, customer service, environmental and social impacts as well. This means that they are attracted towards the product that is provided by the company after taking care of all the characteristics supported by the educational and awareness level of the consumers. Customers normally react towards the highest level of corporate social responsibility provided. There is a very strong relationship between the company and the manufactured product it’s selling, and corporate social responsibility make a vital difference for changed consumer behaviours, because they prefer to buy products from well-advertised and promoted organizations than those organizations who have never intended to advertise about their corporate social responsibility activities (Mahad & Pedersen; 2006).

CSR Potential 
Figure 1: CSR Potential 

Corporate social responsibility plays major role in changing consumers’ behaviour as most of the consumers usually intend to take great interest in corporate social responsibility characteristics and the responsible behaviour of organizations. However, there is no authentic proof that how these customers evaluate the company’s response towards corporate social responsibility but consumers do intend to participate towards corporate social responsibility and buy the relevant company’s products after judging company’s products from their own perspective. However, it has been analyzed that the consumer awareness towards corporate social responsibility is usually below average and they judge the company’s products after hearing it from someone or after watching the advertising campaigns made by the company’s side. As a whole, the consumer awareness towards corporate social responsibility of a company directs particularly to extremely optimistic analysis of an enterprise in terms of involvement, recognition, classification, approach, perspectives, and behavioural objectives.

(Coyle, 2006) Consumers’ awareness of corporate social responsibility is very crucial for accurate customer reactions and gets provisional for company’s beneficial end with its involvement in implementing corporate social responsibility. Consumers usually are required to have high level of corporate social responsibility awareness otherwise low corporate social responsibility awareness could lead to restricted connotation of all consumer associated corporate social responsibility prospective that have been highly structured in the past. However, the principle of corporate social responsibility could be implemented as one of the most important success factors in the company, but the big challenge here would remain same as how to educate the crucial consumer base with high level of corporate social responsibility awareness. Thus, corporate social responsibility awareness remains crucial to be communicated from the company’s behalf accurately to the consumer side. The cycle of corporate social responsibility awareness can be illustrated and understood by the following picture:

CSR Communication & Awareness Illustration
Figure 2: CSR Communication & Awareness Illustration

Why Corporate social responsibility is Important?

According to Barth & Wolff; (2009); there are many examples, assumptions, proves and other related information that proves that corporate social responsibility is of extremely importance for the better operation, strategic management, and business development of the company because it pays back to the company from every aspect. The first aspect is the trust that is paid by customers. Consumers usually buy from those companies whom they trust and regard them as trustworthy and loyal companies towards their consumers. Therefore, consumers always focus on the first factor of trust for which company invests as a part of corporate social responsibility. Then there are suppliers who deal with companies they rely on. This is yet another important aspect because suppliers are very important entity in the business growth, development, and revenue generation. After that, there are employees who work for only those companies they pay respect to. Only those companies are able to pay respect who respect the people around them; whether they are customers, suppliers, workers, shareholders, promoters, or most importantly, employees. Employees are the back bone of every business. Employees are the people who bring innovation, motivation and modernization to the company. Therefore it is very crucial for the business and the management to pay respect to its employees so that a mutually accepted working environment could be developed where the company not only gives good quality and health to the consumers, but security and respect to its team workers as well. Last but not the least comes the stakeholders and NGOs. Stakeholders are the investing bodies who share mutual funds with the company and mutually own the company to some extents; while on the other hand, NGOs play vital role in spreading common word regarding the company and its corporate social responsibility activities. The management of the company is required to satisfy the stakeholders for better performance and progress, and NGOs as also for good market reputation and virtual image (Zu, 2008).

Impact of Corporate social responsibility

In general, corporate social responsibility has become very crucial and vital element for society. This is due to its beneficial factors towards consumers. By maintaining corporate social responsibility within a company, the management is able to establish good relationship with its customers and is also able to follow strict procedures for increasing the reputation of the company in the society. It stabilizes level of trust with the stakeholders to follow best practice to cope up in the competitive market place. A competitive company will have a strong platform and standing in the community. It will be able to handle criticism from society or consumers and also will be able to react positively by maintaining a sustainable position among the target audience. Corporate social responsibility also enables the management to carry out its self assessment to identify the weaknesses among its competitors. The corporate social responsibility also enables the company to establish good name and to attain success in future strategic planning decisions. It reflects the management policies and makes them realize whether the policies set are favourable or unfavourable for the company. The concept of corporate social responsibility includes how they are treating their employees, how they are satisfying their consumers, and how they are taking care of their stakeholders and investors. As a whole, corporate social responsibility directly contributes towards the success factor of the company because it guides the management in the right direction to attain right goals and ambitions for right decision making for better future development through strategic planning (Thomson & John; 2007).

Corporate social responsibility and Financial Performance

(Hancock, 2005) Corporate social responsibility is not a science; it is a simple strategy that can act as the turning point for every organization. In the recent decades, organizations have paid extra attention and emphasis on the development and implementation of corporate social responsibility and have enjoyed multi millions of revenue as a result. It is beneficial for the company not only in the aspects of social and environment, but also in the economic and financial sides as well while making positive impact on the shareholders and the society simultaneously. Corporate social responsibility can be assumed as the promise of beneficial revenue generation for a company. This is the fact that businesses are growing while stressing on corporate social responsibility and making balance with the environment and social terms. Companies are striving to maintain a sustainable balance between financial accomplishment and ecological responsibilities in parallel. An organization’s main purpose is to generate sustainable revenue and place its position as the top company among its competitors in the marketplace. But to accomplish this stage, there are particular practices that are mandatory to be followed strategically. This will not only help the company’s management to operate strategically, but would also be beneficial in terms of finance and revenue generation eventually.

Measurement of corporate social responsibility Activities

A company is regarded as trustworthy and dependable by the community if it stands fair on the primary judgment set by its consumers. To attain the certain level of trust from its consumers, the company is supposed to create mutual understanding and cooperation with its customers very strongly so that the consumers could rely on the management. In this way, the business would get the mutual cooperation and support from its consumers, stakeholders, employees, investors, suppliers, and local community. Now, measurement of corporate social responsibility activities is quite immature. Some experts have come up with assumption methods but they are not frequently carried out by organizations yet. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to calculate or measure the benefits of corporate social responsibility; however, there are some aspects and categories through which the performance or benefits of CSR could be measured to some extents. These measurement techniques are categorized as under (Samuel & Filho, 2008):

  • Social Audits and ObservationsThis type of audit and observation process comes in the category of outlined broadcasts. The main purpose of this category is to attain necessary data and information related to an organization’s corporate social performance. A third party helps the company in the areas of environmental activities, philanthropic programs, and social works. The only disadvantage here is that at times, a ranking system can create pigeon-holes in the consequences and can affect the main purpose of it.
  • Corporate or Social Performance – Corporate or social performance consists of content evaluation and calculation of several corporate exposes that includes of: communication with shareholders, annual reports, 10Ks, and others. The content analysis is carried out to compare and contrast units of text with certain corporate or social performance terms to evaluate the progress and standing of company in the areas of corporate or social performance.
  • Reputation Ratings – It includes the reputation rating of corporate or social performance, which can be any kind of rating that the company receives from either inside or outside medium. For instance: ratings from Fortune magazine, any professional or academic survey.
  • Executive Standard and Significance This is the last and one of the most important measurement categories that includes company’s culture, principles, and value. This helps in deciding how much the company pays interest and attention to the corporate social responsibility activities.

Effect of media on corporate social responsibility

(May et al, 2007) One of the strongest elements in the success of any business is the involvement of media. It is the most delicate, yet the most crucial or cruel factor that either could destroy the image of the company in front of its consumers, or it could help in gaining success in the market with good reputation. Media can be considered as the direct step in gaining access to consumers’ good books. It is the communication medium between the public, companies’ management, governmental bodies, and the entire world. Any organization can acquire success with the correct use of media through advertising, news, promotion strategies, proper marketing, events, workshops, seminars, or other publishing occasions. There are certain issues where media acts proactively in different modes. Now, the mode of media could be annoying, irritating, humiliating, encouraging, aspiring, inspiring, motivating, or respectful. There is no set pattern in how media could react towards the products or services offered by the company. However, media has turned out to be very active towards corporate social responsibility activities adopted by companies.

(The CSR Digest Website Admin, 2009) Overall, the reaction of media towards corporate social responsibility has been extremely positive because it highlights and encourages the use of corporate social responsibility activities within all organizations. Because of the high level involvement of media towards corporate social responsibility, companies are bound to follow certain CSR practices and take care of all the people of all categories that are related to the business somehow because the management know that the media is behind these people and would seek a transparent way to exploit any misbehaviour from the company’s side. The attitude of media towards corporate social responsibility is positive because it knows that in this way, companies are liable to maintain dignity and good reputation for the sake of good governance.

Understanding consumer behaviour

The consumer behaviour deals with when, why, how, and what kind of product or service does consumers prefer to buy. The elements that are used by this principle are; economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and social psychology. It is the decision process and acts of people who are involved in purchasing and use of products. The major internal state of consumer behaviour leads to motivation which is related to the psychological constructs. Motives can variance with each other and influence how customers behave or react in different situations. The particular pattern of consumer behaviour may show a discrepancy extensively depending upon the particular intentions, that is, the people and the purchasing situations experienced by the individual. The entire process of consumer behaviour has three distinctive activities, such as, selecting, purchasing, and consuming. These activities focus on the motives and principles of consumer goals, beliefs, and requirements that could help in understanding why consumers buy particular products or prefer to buy them. The examination of the theory of consumer behaviour leads to understanding the independence of needs, goals, and requirements of the consumer end. The consumer behaviour might be complicated and complex to understand at times, because it represents a mixture of emotional attachment, ratios, rational, and patronage purposes that initiates the customers to buy something in particular. Consumer behaviour is extremely market segment on which companies may seek to focus on their efforts. The main catch here is the aspect of customer loyalty that initiates the customer to buy repeatedly and become permanent long term customer of the business (Michman et al, 2003).

Changing consumer behaviour

According to Schiffman & Kanuk (2006); studies have shown that consumer behaviour means a lot to every business because it reflects whether the company would succeed in acquiring its targeted goals or not by attracting customers’ behaviour towards buying their offered products or services in the marketplace. In today’s world, the consumer behaviour has been changed to great extents due to several reasons that includes; change in environment, change in technology, change in lifestyle, livelihoods, variety of choices available to the consumers, volume of information provided to the consumer, hygiene features, prices difference, quality difference, company replacement, change in product perspective, provided customer service, discounts available, and the list goes on and on. The consumer behaviour is likely to be regarded as rational because the consumer can keep on using the same product unless or until he is granted with a better opportunity or choice to select from other varieties available in the market. Basically, consumer behaviour comprises of three main elements, such as, beliefs, feelings about, and behavioural intentions towards buying product. All these elements are tightly combined together as they are extremely interdependent and merge some kind of forces and attributes that reflects how the customer will react towards the particular product being offered by the company.

Case Study – Level of CSR awareness in the Emerging Market of Qatar versus the Developed market of the United Kingdom

As discussed before, the markets used in this dissertation for comparison are of Qatar and the United Kingdom. A comparison of both these countries would be used to analyze how companies and business react towards their corporate social responsibility and what ratio of consumers is aware about it.

(Idowu & Filho, 2008) The rate of corporate social responsibility awareness is different worldwide. Therefore, the level of corporate social responsibility among consumers is different in the United Kingdom and Qatar. Corporate social responsibility awareness is very crucial for the consumers and the general public to know because in this way, they are capable of evaluating how much companies care about their customers and what measures they take to provide guaranteed quality, safe and healthy environment for others.

It is said that the United Kingdom provides an ideal breeding for several industries, including corporate social responsibility. This is because of the fact that most of the organizations, including big accountancy enterprises who charged themselves into corporate social responsibility oriented activities were originally had their head quarters in the United Kingdom. The market in the United Kingdom is quite developed than several countries in the sense that companies do care about general welfare and also to gain good reputation. The level of corporate social responsibility awareness in the United Kingdom is very high and consumers know what company could cause what kind of hazards to their health and to the environment. This is why companies have to go through several measures so that they could acquire good reputation in front of their customers and stakeholders. The market in the United Kingdom is highly developed and people know a lot about their rights and the way companies should act to provide them with high quality and safe environment. This is because of the reason that these organizations contribute towards spreading corporate social responsibility awareness with other institutions and regard it as their sole liability. This helps them not only in meeting high customer expectations, but also rewards them with good reputation. It has become a trend to follow corporate social responsibility and become sector-particular and enterprise-particular for advanced innovations. Corporate social responsibility provides the feeling of self-motivation, care, and concern from the company side that they care for their customers and follow every possible measure that could help in providing their consumers with not only good quality, but also healthy, safe and secure environment to live in.

On the other hand, the market in Qatar is a developing market and not everyone knows about their rights and about corporate social responsibility. Qatar has emerged as a developing country successfully since the last decade as compared to the countries situated in its neighbourhood areas. The corporate sector and people of Qatar are getting aware of new business terms and activities with the passage of time eventually, especially to corporate social responsibility. Apart from being a developing country, corporate social responsibility remains one of the major necessity of Qatar marketplace since corporate social responsibility is an integral part of every business in the world and increases value and revenue generation for the organizations who implies corporate social responsibility within their organization. For many organizations and people, corporate social responsibility might be confusing due to lack of transparency and lack of clear concept. The society of Qatar is also developing so people are getting the knowledge and idea of what corporate social responsibility really is. However, the companies in Qatar are working on to provide highly facilitated products with healthy environment that could be beneficial not only for the consumers but also for the general welfare.

Research Methodology

Introduction

In the previous two sections, analysis and evaluation was done on the perception of consumers towards the concept of corporate social responsibility. The study was done to evaluate the level of consumers’ corporate social responsibility awareness in emerging market in Qatar versus developed market in the United Kingdom. Research methodology is done to identify and compare the various factors that are used to conduct the research purpose efficiently and effectively. Normally, research refers to the systematic collection of information, its evaluation, and dissemination process. Research is defined as “the process of gathering information for the purpose of initiating, modifying or terminating a particular investment or group of investments” (Research: Definition, n.d.). In this section, various research questions are formulated to dig out a better understanding of the research work. The methodologies and other aspects related to the research always depend on the theme and requirement of research. The case study and literature review are all activities involved in research to dig out necessary details of matter under discussion. The main objective of the following chapter is to analyze and assess research questions, research methodologies, implementation procedures, data collection, source of data, evaluation of data, and other research details while gathering information for this the following study.

For conducting the research, the countries taken for study were UK and Qatar. The important reason for selecting these two countries was the development factor. UK is a developed country and the concept of corporate social responsibility is well known and more importance is given. Whereas the dissertation focuses on the approach of the consumers in the developing country like Qatar and wants to compare the attitude of the consumers towards this concept.

Research Design

Research design represents the entire structure and working framework of the research. The research design is a plan which depicts how the research has to be carried out to achieve the aims and objectives of the study. Often it is defined as “a plan for collecting and utilizing data so that desired information can be obtained with sufficient precision or so that a hypothesis can be tested properly” (Research design, n.d.). Actually it makes up a level wise execution of various methods to approach our ultimate requirement. Research design is a conceptual structure, outline or blueprint of what the researcher would do in the future to continue the research by following proper guidelines and mediums. There are a lot of benefits that the researcher could gain from the proper utilization of research design, such as, it saves time and is cost effective, gives maximum information by avoiding unnecessary data flow, sets limits on certain areas and prevents blind research methods, provides reliable results, prevents researchers from gaining wrong conclusions, and provides maximum endeavours to the researcher to carry out an extraordinary research (Hakim, 2000). The following diagram shows a research design of secondary research loom.

Research Design

It is clear from the above illustration that research design is a guide of path through which a researcher closely follows in his course of study.

At this instance it becomes necessary to find out whether a qualitative or quantitative methodology is to be implemented for this dissertation. It is important to have a critical analysis on the matter of methodologies used in conducting research on it. “A dissertation’s methodology consists of four parts: participants, instruments, procedures, and data analysis” (Dissertation & research methodology help self-help articles for dissertation students & researchers, 2007).

Research Methods

(Dissertation & research methodology help self-help articles for dissertation students & researchers, 2007). From the image given above it becomes clear that research can be performed on quantitative as well as qualitative basis. Qualitative research requires case studies, observation, informal interviews, use of secondary data and observation. Observation is done directly or indirectly termed as participant and non-participant manner. Each observation technique has overt and covert approaches. In quantitative research, there is a slight difference from qualitative approach. It requires content analysis, experiments, use of secondary data and surveys which can be based on questionnaires or structured interviews. The secondary data is used for getting accurate official statistics. At this instance it becomes necessary to identify whether this dissertation is quantitative or qualitative. The statement points to the fact that dissertation researches are mostly qualitative researches. So the same is true for this dissertation as well.

The next requisite is to seek out various steps for implementing the research taken up. It will be best to “use a combination of focus groups, one-to-one interviews with business investors and the trade as well as future scenario workshops” (Morgan, Pritchard & Pride, 2002, p.60). In this dissertation a better utilization of qualitative approach is employed.

(Creswell, 2003) The methodology of the dissertation is of exploratory research with a qualitative design. The research has been designed to comprise both secondary and primary sources of data and information gathered by the researcher. This research provides insight into the ongoing issue along with the inclusive detail and helps in drawing conclusive results by getting the best results possible from the research carried out for the study. The secondary research in an exploratory research is carried through qualitative approaches, such as surveys and questionnaires. A qualitative research using questionnaires and in-depth surveys was employed to gather information. The reason for the use of the different method for this research was because limited information was available and it was difficult to get hold of the entire information to conduct face to face interviews (Creswell and Clark; 2006).

Qualitative Research

In this study the qualitative research methodology has been used to perform primary research relevant to the study. Qualitative research methods are used in the cases where quality and nonnumeric values are concerned. This research method involves the real life experience gathered from a field or a group of people, society, organization, community or even individuals. Qualitative research method is usually used to seek the originality and real expressions and behaviours of people (Punch, 2005). Entire critical approach thus becomes depicted within the Qualitative approach adopted.

The primary research makes use of questionnaires and the internet based interviews while the secondary research comprises of the literature review and the analysis of the main topic of the dissertation. The sampling methodology that is used for the secondary research conducted using the questionnaire is that of non probability sampling procedure. The qualitative research includes interviews which become effective mode of achieving required illustrations and conclusions. In conducting interviews there should be certain methodologies followed. The questions to be asked to the person facing interview are to be formed prior to arranging such sessions. The selection of questions is to be made after analysing what is required and what is to be met. The questions can be divergent or convergent type i.e. a question can just relate to a specific factor alone or can be used to drag out ideas from the person under test. The consumer does not have any access to get the information about on the topic corporate social responsibility. Even though the consumers are not having any information about the topic, the questions framed for the study is close ended questionnaire. A close ended questionnaire is done because there will be some consumers who are interested in giving some informations relating to their awareness about the concept of corporate social responsibility and by using this specific and accurate answer can be derived.

The selection of qualitative research is opted because it beat suits a student working on dissertation. It is being recognized that academic researches and even branding ones are properly attached to qualitative methods rather than quantitative method. The learning style and approaches of management studies will be developed considerably with the adoption of qualitative research. This helps students to achieve a batter pace in research studies and interpretations. Students are people under exploration and so it becomes anther evidence for appropriateness of qualitative methodology.

For conducting a research methodology, the important task is to select the sample. The samples are those who are taken for the study and from whom the relevant information is taken. For the research purpose, 100 people were selected from each country i.e. Qatar and United Kingdom. The selection was done randomly. The consumers selected were the general consumers of goods and there was no speciality among them. These were considered as samples on which the research was conducted. As a result, they were targeted using the non-probability based sampling that allows anyone who has reliable and valid information to share to respond to the survey. Validity and reliability of the data gathered through the questionnaire based survey were ensured through the use of triangulation technique whereby multiple questions were targeted at the respondents to determine the integrity of the answers.

The answers were collected by using different methods like face to face interview, emails, post and by using phones. One of the important aspects that had to be considered was that before asking question to the selected consumers, prior information regarding the corporate social responsibility was provided to them. They were also given information about the purpose of carrying out this research work.

Validity and Reliability

(Bailey, 2007) The validity has been ensured in the research methodology by ensuring qualitative research employed with integrity. The sources for the qualitative research were taken from official websites, books and the peer reviewed journals to ensure that the information used in the literature review was accurate and valid. The validity of the information gathered in the questionnaire based survey has been ensured by including triangulated questions to determine the validity and the accurateness of the responses.

Data Collection

The data for the dissertation was taken from accredited and authorized peer reviewed journals, industry journals, industry reports, market overview, local industry operations, and global industry operations. Other than these, there were many areas from where the data could be collected in order to carry out the research work effectively and efficiently. The detailed information about comparing the level of corporate social responsibility awareness in an emerging market of Qatar with that of a developed market in the United Kingdom Internet, marketing and communications oriented, management oriented Organizational, Corporate, and Trade journals were used as a source of data for the historical research. The data were mainly collected from the questionnaires that were distributed among the various people in two different countries.

The data gathered for the qualitative research study is in the form of journal articles, corporate journal reports and reviews were studied. All the data collected is in the written form. The authorization and the verification of the data are provided by the peer reviewed nature of the journals and the bodies that have put the data on their academic electronic databanks.

Sampling

The sampling technique for the primary research was based on a non-probability based convenience sample. The convenience sample was taken as it allowed the researcher to gather information from the respondents without putting a restrain on the target sample for secondary research. The total sample for the study was 100 that were taken from both countries. Among the total population, only a small part of population was taken and there was no particular focus group for the study. All the general public consumers of goods were taken into consideration.

Questionnaires

Questionnaires were sent to the selected consumers by means of post, e-mail and direct interviews. As it was difficult and expensive to directly approach the consumers, questionnaires were mailed to the selected consumers. The resultant sampling methodology that was seen to be most effective in this situation was that of a non probability, convenience based sample. The probability based sampling methodologies were avoided as they were restricting the sources of secondary information regarding the subject matter. The questions were close ended so that the consumers were able to give a specific answer which will be easier for the research work to carry on its further proceedings. The questions were put in MCQ (multiple choice questions) format to minimize the time taken to respond to it.

Bias statement

Bias is the rate at which the collected information may not provide accurate data. Whatever methods are selected for the study, there will be a sort of bias ion it and it is very difficult to find out a method without any bias. In this work the method to collect information from the target public is questionnaire and bias can happen if the selected consumers provides any wrong information and the main limitation in the study is that before giving the questionnaire a general idea or information related to the topic. So the person who does not have any idea before will give the same information which is given to them and it does not seem to be new information for the study.

Results/Findings and Analysis

Introduction

The following paragraphs shall attempt to contribute to the research by shedding light on the responses received from the survey participants in a manner such that initially the responses received with regard to Qatar shall be elaborated after which the responses received with regard to the UK shall be highlighted. This shall be followed by a comparison of the observations to identify similarities, differences and tendencies for the observations to move from one region to another.

Results from the questionnaire

Private companies must bear civil responsibilities

Figure 3: Question one answersIn the case of the question asked to determine whether private companies should bear civil responsibilities, it was observed that in the case of Qatar, thirty nine percent of the respondents chose to strongly agree while only four percent of the participants chose to strongly disagree. Another twenty eight percent chose to agree while only ten percent chose to select disagree as the option of their choice. However, nineteen percent of the participants chose to neither agree nor disagree on the subject. In the case of the UK and with regard to the very same question, it was observed that sixty two percent of the respondents chose to strongly agree while not a single one of the participants chose to strongly disagree. At the same time, the trend continued as twenty seven percent of the participants chose to agree while three percent of the participants chose to disagree, thereby leaving a mere eight percent who chose to neither agree nor disagree.

In the case of Qatar, it was evident that the respondents considered the presence of a strong need for private companies to bear civil responsibilities. Judging by the fact that the Qatar economy is one that is currently rapidly developing and has not reached a level of development where it can be considered to be parallel to stronger and more stable economies such as the UK economy and the US economy, it comes as no surprise that even though the desire to have private companies bear civil responsibilities exist, a significant share of respondent chose to neither agree nor disagree. With the passage of time and the development of the Qatar economy, we can surmise that this nineteen percent may choose to take a stance and may eventually end up either strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing.

In the case of the UK however, it was observed that the respondents’ did not share an element of doubt and chose to consider the need to have private companies bear civil responsibilities outright. The three percent of the respondents who chose to disagree with the notion of assigning civil responsibilities to private companies did not show much of a share as compared to the staggering sixty two percent of the respondents who chose to strongly agree. The fact that another twenty seven percent chose to agree and only eight percent were left to fall in none of the answer categories serves to show that unless there is a significant change in the UK economy, a shifting of the small eight percent of neutral respondents will have very little or no effect on the observations that came forth in the case of this question. This speculation can be made in light of the fact that even if the eight percent of the neutral survey questionnaire respondents were to shift to either one of the disagree or strongly disagree stances, the majority would still be held by those who agree and strongly agree to the notion that private companies should in fact have civil responsibilities.

However, when one takes a look at the observations for both countries in a comparative manner, there is a pattern that appears to be quite uniform. In both cases, the respondents have chosen to highlight the need for civil responsibility to be borne by private companies and there is no doubt that there appears to be very little room for the respondents to undergo a shift of opinion on this question.

Companies should primarily follow ethical principles rather than commercial ones

Question one answers
Figure 3: Question one answers

With regard to the question asked to determine whether or not companies should follow ethical principles as primary policies and give commercial principles a second place to them, it was observed in the case of Qatar that thirty percent of the respondents chose to strongly agree to the idea while a mere two percent chose to strongly disagree. Another nineteen percent chose to strongly agree while an observation nothing less than phenomenal showed that a similar share of the respondents chose to strongly disagree, leaving almost one third of the participants neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the hypothetical question.

In the case of the UK and with regard to the same question, it was observed that a staggering fifty one percent of the respondents chose to strongly agree while not a single one of the participants chose to strongly disagree. Thirty six percent of the participants chose to agree while only five percent of the participants chose to disagree, leaving only eight percent of the participants neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the hypothetical question.

It is apparent from the observations presented above that the majority seems to be decided in its opinion in the cases of both the UK and Qatar, however there seems to be room for change in the case of Qatar when one considers the fact that thirty percent of the survey participants were unsure of which position to take on the question or did not choose to take a position altogether. In consideration of the fact that a share of participants in the case of Qatar remains in a neutral position and accounts for the same volume of respondents as does the share of those who chose to strongly agree, it is reasonable to surmise that a change in this trend may send the scenario spiralling into the opposite extreme where the majority of the respondents will then be either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing to the idea that companies should incorporate ethical principles in their policies rather than going for commercial ones. The answers with regard to those observed for the UK on the other hand appear to be quite stable and even if a major shift in respondent answer trends was to come about, we can still speculate that the majority will remain in agreement to the notion that companies should primarily make use of ethical principles rather than commercial principles. This finding serves to prove that a strong need for the acknowledgement and incorporation of ethical principles is felt in the UK and that there is a strong need to address this. On the other hand, the state of observations in the case of Qatar shows that the need for the incorporation of ethical principles as primary policy dictators rather than commercial principles is not as high. This can be inferred to be present in light of the fact that the developing economy in Qatar has only just begun to develop operating policies and is not currently engaged in any activities that could result in a noticeable breach of ethical principles.

Consumers must consider the policies of a particular business while buying a certain product

Question three answers
Figure 5: Question three answers

With regard to the third question that was asked to identify the respondents’ perception of the necessity that exists in the notion that a customer should generally consider the policies of the business when buying from that business. It was observed that in the case of Qatar, only twenty percent chose to strongly agree while ten percent chose to strongly disagree. Another seventeen percent chose to agree while the majority of the survey participants accounted for those who chose to disagree with the notion that consumers should consider the company’s policies before buying a product from that company. Only thirteen percent of the respondents chose to take a neutral stance in response to the question.

In the case of the responses received in answer to this question with regard to the UK, it was observed that the majority chose to strongly agree with the notion that a consumer should consider a company’s policies before purchasing a product from the company. In a very minor opposition was the four percent of the respondents who chose to strongly disagree with the idea that consumers should not pay attention to a company’s policies when purchasing a product of that company. Thirty four percent of the respondents chose to agree with the hypothetical question while only twelve percent of the respondents chose to disagree. Five percent of the respondents did not choose to take a position on the question.

It can be observed that the answers given by the respondents with regard to the UK and Qatar were ones that were in stark opposition to one another. While the respondents were cautious about company policies in the UK, they appeared to give relatively little relevance to company policies in Qatar. We can surmise that the Qatar economy, being one that is relatively new in its development when compared to that of the UK, is one in which concern about company policies is slowly developing as compared to the UK consumer market where concern about company policies seems to have taken on a strong role that cannot be ignored. Also, another observation was that the number of respondents who did not choose to take a stance with regard to the answers to the question was that there were very few who chose to remain neutral. This observation, when considered in light of the fact that the minorities for observations of both, Qatar and the US, serves to show that there is an increasing level of awareness that is steadily taking root across economies for the importance of the policies that companies exercise in the development of their products. It would therefore be justifiable to infer that an established economy tends to incorporate a degree of awareness of producer policies much higher than that of an economy less developed. Also, there appears to be a tendency of the observations to steadily move towards an increasing level of agreement with the notion presented in the question with regard to the consideration of policies of the company when purchasing a product from that company.

Organization’s labour standards and workers rights

Question four answers
Figure 6: Question four answers

With regard to the question that sought to identify the position of the respondents with regard to the significance of labour standards and worker right’s of an organization when in the process of purchasing a product made by that organization. It was observed that in the cases of both, Qatar and the UK, the respondents appeared to be unanimous in their opinion that there is no need for the consumer to always regard to the significance of labour standards and worker right’s of an organization when in the process of purchasing a product made by that organization. On the other hand, the different between respondent opinions in the case of the two countries became strongly visible with the observation that only three percent of the respondents considered the labour standards and worker rights of an organization to be of any importance when choosing a product or service of the respective company. They were of the opinion that they frequently give consideration to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when they choose a product or service of the organization. On the other hand, ten percent of the participants in the case of the opinions expressed with regard to the Qatar consumer market believed that they seldom gave any relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choose a product or service of the organization. Only eight percent were of the opinion that they only occasionally gave relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when they choose a product or service of the organization. However, the majority of the responses received showed that a staggering seventy nine percent of the participants never choose to consider the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when they choose a product or service of the organization.

In the case of the US consumer market , thirteen percent of the consumer were of the opinion that they frequently gave relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choose a product or service of the organization while the majority was held by the share of participants which constituted forty one percent of the survey sample and stated that they occasionally choose to give relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choose a product or service of the organization. Thirty percent of the survey participants chose give seldom relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choose a product or service of the organization while sixteen percent of the participants never considered it imperative to consider the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choose a product or service of the organization.

It is apparent in the case of these observations that none of the two consumer groups are present at the maximum possible of concern over labour policies and worker rights of the organization when choosing a product or service of the organization. On the other hand, the presence of a difference is more than obvious in the fact that the majority of the survey participants in case of Qatar never choose to give any relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when they choose a product or service of the organization while the majority in the case of the US consumer market was one that occasionally gave relevance to the labour policies and worker rights of the organization when the choosey a product or service of the organization. This serves to show that there is a strong difference present between the perceptions of the UK consumer market and the Qatar consumer market as held by consumers of their respective markets.

Rejecting the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws

Question five answers
Figure 7: Question five answers

With regard to the question asked to determine whether consumers think it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws. It was observed that in the case of Qatar, ten percent of the survey participants believed and strongly agreed with the notion that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws while fifteen percent of the participants agreed to the idea that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws. Thirty three percent of the participants however chose to disagree while a mere seven percent of the participants strongly disagreed with the notion that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws. What comes as an essential findings is that thirty five percent of the survey participants chose not to take a position on whether or not it is important or not to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws.

In the case of the observations made for the same question with regard to the UK, it was observed that a staggering sixty one percent of the participants strongly agreed with the idea that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws while only twenty nine percent of the participants simply agreed that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws in the case of the UK. None of the participants strongly disagreed with the idea that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws while only a mere two percent chose to disagree while ten percent chose not to take a position on the whether or not it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws.

It is apparent from the observations with regard to this question that there is a higher level of consumer awareness in the UK than there is in Qatar with regard to the relevance of rejecting the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws. Also, the majority of the respondents in the case of Qatar came forth as ones that were undecided in their answers and it would therefore be reasonable to surmise that in the event that the perception changes, it may move towards disagreement to the idea that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws since if one was to consider the observations, there is a greater share of participants that chooses to disagree with the idea that it is necessary to reject the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws than there is for those who agree with the idea. This movement may in turn come forth as a strong difference between the perception of the necessity rejecting the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws that exists in the UK and Qatar.

Corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise

 Question six answers
Figure 8: Question six answers

With regard to the question that sought to identify whether or not corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time, it was observed in the case of the responses received with regard to Qatar that thirty percent of the survey participants strongly agreed with the idea that corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time while not a single one of the participants strongly disagreed. Twenty one percent of the participants agreed while five percent of them disagreed with the hypothetical question that corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time. What came forth as somewhat an odd finding was that forty four percent of the survey participants chose to neither agree nor disagree?

In the case of the of the observations made with regard to the UK, eighty three percent of the participants held a strong share and totally agreed that corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time while none of them believed that corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time in the case of the UK. Fourteen percent of the participants agreed while none of them chose to disagree. Only a mere three percent of the participants represented the share that neither agreed nor disagreed that corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time.

It is evident from the observations that the general understanding with regard to the understanding that the corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time, is that corporate social responsibility is not taken to be essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise. While respondent opinions in the case of Qatar may be ones that appear to be indecisive, the uncertainty does not represent a threat to the general understanding. Also, consumers in the UK appear to be rather strong in their opinion since and recognition of corporate social responsibility as an essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise at the same time. However, even though the understanding is general and prevails similarly across both cases of the UK and Qatar, it is not one that is entirely same and there appears to be a tendency for consumer perceptions in the case of Qatar to undergo a change towards neutrality rather than outright agreement.

Corporate social responsibility in mass media

Question seven answers
Figure 9: Question seven answers

With regard to the question asked to evaluate the perceived frequency with which consumers hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media, it was observed in the case of Qatar that none of the consumers chose to state that they always hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media which came as no surprise sixty one percent of the respondents chose to state that they never hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media. Only four percent of the respondents stated that they frequently hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media whole twenty seven percent of the respondents said that they seldom hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media. Seven percent of the respondents chose to state that they only occasionally hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media in the case of Qatar.

In the case of the UK, it was observed that six percent of the respondents always hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media while twenty eight percent frequently hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media. Forty seven percent hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media while thirteen percent are exposed to it only seldom. It was also observed that six percent of the respondents in the case of the UK perceived that they never hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media.

It is apparent from the above observations that consumers hear about corporate social responsibility in mass media more frequently in the case of the UK than in Qatar since the observations show a tendency of the exposure in the case of Qatar to tend towards a lesser frequency while the observations in the case of the UK show an opposite trend and are more inclined towards a higher frequency of exposure to corporate social responsibility in mass media.

Consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities

Question eight answers
Figure 10: Question eight answers

In the case of the question asked to identify if respondents believe that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities, it was observed that in the case of Qatar, eight percent of the respondents strongly agree with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities while only one percent believes that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities. Fourteen percent of the consumers chose to agree with the hypothetical question while thirty four percent of the respondent chose to disagree with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities. A staggering forty three percent chose not to take a stance on the question in the case of Qatar.

The observations recorded in the case of the UK were far more concrete since sixty three percents of the respondents chose to strongly agree with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities while none of the respondents strongly disagreed. Twenty eight percent of the respondents agreed while none of the respondents disagreed with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities. Only nine percent of the respondents chose not to take a position on the question.

It is apparent from the above observation that the respondents in the case of the UK are far more decided in their opinion than they are in the case of Qatar.

It is apparent that there is a tendency of the respondents to consider disagreement with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities while there is an apparent decisiveness with the idea that consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities in the case of the UK.

Role of government enhance social responsibilities of the private business

Question nine answers
Figure 11: Question nine answers

With regard to the question that was designed to identify whether the respondents considered it important for the role of the government in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business, it was observed in the case of the observations made for Qatar that thirty eight percent of the respondents chose to strongly disagree with the idea that the government should play a role in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business while only five percent in comparison chose to strongly disagree. Twenty seven percent of the respondents chose to agree to the idea while twenty one percent disagreed with the idea that the government should play a role in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business. Only nine percent of the participants chose to neither agree nor disagree with the idea that the government should not play a role in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business.

In the case of the observations made with regard to the UK, it was observed that sixty one percent of the respondents chose to strongly agree with the idea that the governments should play a role in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business while none of the respondents chose to strongly disagree with the same. Twenty eight percent chose to agree while only three percent chose to disagree leaving only eight percent of the respondents who chose to neither agree nor disagree with the idea that the government should play a role in enhancing social responsibilities of the private business.

It is apparent in the case of this observation as it has become in the last few observations as well that there is decisiveness in consumer perceptions that prevail in the respondents with regard to the UK while the respondents appear to be visibly undecided in their opinions in the case of Qatar. Most responses are being observed to be ones in which there is either a straight forward similarity between respondent perceptions in the case of the UK as well as Qatar while others show an opposition in the form of the observations taking a concrete stance in the case of the UK while taking on an undecided and slightly opposing stance in the case of Qatar at the same time.

Interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country

Question ten answers
Figure 12: Question ten answers

The last question of the survey questionnaire was designed to take on a personalized approach to the study and sought to identify if the respondents take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in the respective country. In the case of Qatar it was observed that the respondents who always take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country did not account for any share of the participants and the majority was held by the fifty four percent who stated that they never take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in the respective country. Six percent of the respondents believed that they frequently take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country while eleven percent of the respondents believed that they occasionally take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country leaving twenty nine percent of the respondents who considered that they seldom take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in the respective country.

In the case of the UK, it was observed that the majority was held by the forty eight percent respondents who occasionally take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country while only eleven percent chose to state that they always take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in the respective country. Twenty one percent of the respondents believed that they frequently take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country while eighteen percent of the respondents believed that they seldom take interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country, leaving only two percent of the respondents representing a share that never takes interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in the respective country.

Summary

It is apparent from the above observations that there is a strong need to understand the difference between CSR awareness in developing and emerging markets. Not only do the responses indicate the presence of a strong difference but there is also an indication that there may be certain similarities that are particular to developed markets and may therefore take root in the emerging markets as they continue to develop. Numerous observations showed that there was a tendency for the emerging market to either follow the trends of the developed market or to move from one trend to another such that it would oppose the developed market. The Qatar market, taken as a representative of emerging markets in general, served to show that an emerging market is one that is highly sensitive and is one with regard to which consumer perceptions continue to evolve alongside the evolution of the developed market. It would therefore be reasonable to surmise that a developed market, such as the UK consumer market, is one for which consumers generally hold strong perceptions when considered with regard to CSR as oppose to an emerging market for which consumer perceptions are generally show tendencies to vary as the market continues to emerge and develop.

Conclusion

Discussion

The discussion presented above and the research performed were carried out in order to determine the authenticity of the thesis statement which held that consumer perceptions across developed and developing economies have a significant degree of influence on Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. The research was conducted by performing a literature review of peer reviewed publications with regard to the intricacies of the Corporate Social Responsibility. Light was shed on the practice of Corporate Social Responsibility through a secondary research. The secondary research began with an introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility and moved on to provide a framework for the review to be carried out upon. Areas such as the implications of social responsibility and the factors that serve to motivate organizations to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility were highlighted. The discussion also brought forth the role of consumer awareness with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility. As the secondary research continued, it provided the researcher with knowledge required to carry out the primary research. The secondary research played a crucial role in the development of the survey questionnaire and once implemented, the findings of the survey questionnaire were analyzed in light of the secondary research to acquire a clear picture of the observations and their underlying trends.

It can be concluded in light of the research carried out that in the case of two different economies such as Qatar and the UK, the concern for Corporate Social Responsibility is higher in the UK than it is in Qatar, indicating a high degree of concern for Corporate Social Responsibility in the developed economies and a gradually increasing concern for the same in economies that are steadily developing. It can also be concluded that ethical principles are considered to be an integral part of Corporate Social Responsibility strategies in developed and developing economies alike and that company policies begin to acquire higher degrees of relevance in the consumers’ perception as the economy continues to grow. The research played a pivotal role in establishing that even though the concern for Corporate Social Responsibility is significant, regardless of the economy, the modern day end-user does not choose to give a high degree of relevance to the labour standards and worker rights practiced by companies although a high degree of concern does exist for the ethical standards the company follows.

The research served to prove that there consumers in developed markets are relatively more concerned about the contribution that Corporate Social Responsibility can make to the development of the community. The degree of relevance given by the media is an element that the secondary research shed light on particularly and the research showed that the role of the media is one that becomes highly diverse in the developed economy and in the developing economy. Consumers in emerging economies did not show a high degree of interest in acquiring knowledge of Corporate Social Responsibility while consumers in developed markets appeared to be more concerned about Corporate Social Responsibility policies.

The research attempted to contribute to the discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility in a broad context and attempted to do so by generating a comparative scenario between two different economies. The study carried out in the context of the research served to provide an extraordinary insight into Corporate Social Responsibility and also allowed the researcher to acquire a sound understanding of the application of Corporate Social Responsibility in customized scenarios. However, it is important to realize that certain limitations were present during the course of the research and in this regard, the researcher gave special attention to these limitations in order to ensure that they did not have an influence on the authenticity of the research.

With regard to the limitations encountered, it is imperative to note that the primary research instrument, although designed and implemented with the maximum care possible, was perhaps the one area where the research was most prone to falling victim to limitations. It is therefore advised that when the findings of this research are brought into use, the presence of the limitations that supplemented the use of the chosen primary research instrument should also be acknowledged. Another limitation that the research faced was that the secondary research attempted to make use of a large number of previous studies. The use of previous studies, while an apparently feasible option that seeks to add to the authenticity of the research, is an approach that comes with its own specific set of limitations. These limitations are far broad and far reaching than one would expect and are manifested in the fact that when each of the previous researches used was carried out, there were a set of limitations present as they are now and they may or may not have had an influence on the research findings. This uncertainty of implication may have had passive and indirect implications on this research since previous researches were used frequently throughout the study and were also brought into use in the development of the primary research instrument. However, it is of the utmost importance to note that the research was carried out with every possible care to ensure that only the most authentic of material was brought into use and that the application of the primary research questionnaire was performed without letting the study fall victim to the countless research limitations that exist. A fundamentally precautionary approach was followed during the data collection, the data handling and the data analysis.

Corporate social responsibility is one of the most important factors in the path of success for any organization. The main motive of corporate social responsibility is to acquire profit-making achievement and success through by implementing positive practices that could endorse general safety and wellbeing for the consumers. Every organization enjoys different advantages from corporate social responsibility and invests differently from different perspectives. There are some highly encouraging factors that motivate companies and their managements to implement corporate social responsibility practices. Over the last several decades, many organizations have paid extra attention and emphasis on improving their corporate social responsibility so that they could enhance their working environment, working conditions, increase motivation among employees, and gain trust from their customers that the company cares for them, their families, safety and environment. The consumers are not always attracted towards the location of the stores, but their preferences have been changing with the passage of time as they know how to react towards better quality, product price, atmosphere, product location, product variety, customer service, environmental and social impacts as well. Corporate social responsibility plays major role in changing consumers’ behaviour as most of the consumers usually intend to take great interest in corporate social responsibility characteristics and the responsible behaviour of organizations. As a whole, the consumer awareness towards corporate social responsibility of a company directs particularly to extremely optimistic analysis of an enterprise in terms of involvement, recognition, classification, approach, perspectives, and behavioural objectives. However, the principle of corporate social responsibility could be implemented as one of the most important success factors in the company, but the big challenge here would remain same as how to educate the crucial consumer base with high level of corporate social responsibility awareness.

Recommendations and Suggestions

The research was one that was fundamentally exploratory in its early stages and it is for the same reason that there were a number of areas that the research touched and which merited further discussion but were not the central focus of this research and therefore had to be passed by. In this regard, these topics can be considered as avenues for further research and any research carried out upon can in turn make use of the findings of this particular research.

It is recommended that the research will be more effective if the countries that are taken will be of same category. Qatar is developing country and UK is a developed country, the attitude of the consumers related to the corporate social responsibility may vary. The responsibility of the corporate in the developed country will be more complicated that that of the developing country.

It was observed that a significant degree of ambiguity underlies the exact definition of Corporate Social Responsibility. The literature analyzed in the process of this research served to prove that although there is a large volume of literature available on the implications of Corporate Social Responsibility and the manner in which it is exercised, most of the literature starts off by presenting multiple definitions of Corporate Social Responsibility, hence indicating the absence of a concrete definition of Corporate Social Responsibility. This research recommends that the exact definition of Corporate Social Responsibility is a subject that merits study since an establishment of this element can serve to be highly productive. This is because of the fact that it will not only allow future researches to perform more streamlined studies but shall also allow organizations to fashion their Corporate Social Responsibility policies in accordance with a threshold that is currently absent.

Appendix – Case Study Elaboration

Corporate social responsibility in the Qatar economy

The concept of Corporate social responsibility is one that comes as a novel concept to middle east since a very brief span of time has passed since the middle east was introduced to the idea and practices of Corporate social responsibility when considered in comparison of the expansive breadth of time that the UK markets have been making use of it. However, it is a concept that is being realized readily and swiftly since organizations in Qatar are beginning to take on initiatives to exercise corporate social responsibility strategies more actively now than they ever did before. It is taken as an opportunity to actively engage in the improvement of living standards and the development of awareness for corporate citizenship. It has led to a spur of measures and actions taken for the sake of the development of the consumers.

An example can be found in the recent move by Qatar Airways in its flight from London to Doha that was made to fly on fuel derived from natural gas (Qatar Airways 2009). The attempt highlights a symbolic resolution on the part of organizations in Qatar to develop a clear perception across consumers of the increasing level of awareness towards corporate social responsibility that is steadily being integrated into the corporate culture. Qatar Airways is already known as a market leader in its industry and the attempt to come forth and take an initiative can be inferred to be the growth of a trend across organizations to increase their engagement in corporate social responsibility measures in order to contribute to the development of society (Qatar Airways 2009).

The reason because of which this example has been chosen to highlight is because Qatar Airways operates in a manner such that its operations span over eighty destinations and the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility on a level such as this serves to prove that the measures being carried out are on an extensively broad level and are meant to have an effect on the same level.

There is no doubt in the fact that Qatar has evolved into a rapidly emerging economy and its development shows an inclination to continue in an upward progression in the coming years (Qatar Airways 2009). However, the rapid increase in attention towards Corporate Social Responsibility has led to an increased degree of concern over opportunities and areas where commercial organizations can implement their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies and it is for the same reason that Corporate Social Responsibility practices often serve to spark controversial debates on the true motives of commercial organizations.

The beginnings of Corporate Social Responsibility in Qatar however, date back to the mid 1990s when Qatar began to make attempts to incorporate an increased level of democracy and liberation in its economy (Al-Khater and Naser 2003). Numerous limitations and restrictions were removed in order to encourage the growth of the economy and several measures were taken to increase privatization so that it could lead to an expansion of the consumer market. As progress began to accelerate, the desire to have a multilaterally beneficial economy began to develop in light of the religious followings of the country. At this point it became eventuality that a concept such as Corporate Social Responsibility would follow and it came as no surprise when Corporate Social Responsibility began to show concrete and developing foundations in the coming years (Al-Khater and Naser 2003).

It was observed that the differentiation in the influence of businesses on the social, economic and environmental aspects of a society tend to augment complexity in the establishment of a singular and all-purpose Corporate Social Responsibility strategy since emerging economies tend to be sensitive when it comes to the degree of security they provide to shareholders (Al-Khater and Naser 2003). A shareholder in an emerging economy can acquire expansive benefits as well as major losses through his/her involvement in the development and investment in the economy. An increase in specified Corporate Social Responsibility measures however can serve to decrease the apparent risk and add productivity to the long run.

Corporate social responsibility in the UK economy

The UK, being an established and rapidly evolving market, is one that was able to exercise CSR principles almost instantly. The advent of CSR caused the spurring of an expansive magnitude of research and corporate bodies across the UK began to invest and engage actively in CSR activities. It is for the same reason that UK now represents an economy that has matured in its CSR implementation and the perceptions held by consumers with regard to the CSR policies and strategies of commercial organizations have undergone a similar level of evolution. In this regard, the UK can be considered to be an excellent representation of a developed consumer market.

The UK market can be observed to be engaged in all forms of Corporate Social Responsibility activities. Corporate Social Responsibility in the UK is of the kind where the government not only encourages organizations to engage in it but also encourages them to ensure that all the members of the value chain of an organization are fully aware of the measures being taken by the organization. Publicity is an essential component of Corporate Social Responsibility in the UK since organizations in the UK generally choose to operate on broad levels of operations. They actively engage in measures through which they can reflect an image that is positive and devoid of the cold and crude corporate functions that commercial organizations are sometimes known for. In light of these facts, it would be reasonable to surmise that while Corporate Social Responsibility is highly active and is becoming increasingly populated in a developed economy such as that of the UK, the level of activity and measures being taken in emerging economies such as Qatar are from their counterparts in the UK.

Appendix – Questions and Findings Tables

Question 1: Private companies must bear civil responsibilities

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 39 28 19 10 4
UK 62 27 8 3 0

Question 2: Companies should primarily follow ethical principles rather than commercial ones

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 30 19 30 19 2
UK 51 36 8 5 0

Question 3: Consumers must consider the policies of a particular business while buying a certain product

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 20 17 13 40 10
UK 45 34 5 12 4

Question 4: Organizations labour standards and workers rights

Always Frequently Occasionally Seldom Never
Qatar 0 3 8 10 79
UK 0 13 41 30 16

Question 5: Rejecting the companys goods or services if it pursues unethical marketing strategies, and violates of environment protection laws

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 10 15 35 33 7
UK 61 29 8 2 0

Question 6: Corporate social responsibility is essential for the welfare of the community and effectiveness of the enterprise

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 30 21 44 5 0
UK 83 14 3 0 0

Question 7: Corporate social responsibility in mass media

Always Frequently Occasionally Seldom Never
Qatar 0 4 7 28 61
UK 6 28 47 13 6

Question 8: Consumers should be more aware of companys social responsibilities

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 8 14 43 34 1
UK 63 28 9 0 0

Question 9: Role of government enhance social responsibilities of the private business

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
Qatar 38 27 9 21 5
UK 61 28 8 3 0

Question 10: Interest in the social activities of the companies, operating in your country

Always Frequently Occasionally Seldom Never
Qatar 0 6 11 29 54
UK 11 21 48 18 2

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