Purpose of the study: This study in Malaysia explores the adoption of strategic social responsibility (SR) practices among manufacturing-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Methodology: A qualitative approach employing the in-depth interview method was taken-up for this study. Eight respondents from manufacturing SMEs in Penang were randomly selected from the list published by the National SME Agency, which is also reckoned as SMECorp and participated in the study. The selection of senior level managers as respondents was also based on their understanding of strategic SR initiatives and decision-making capacity within their organizations. In order to further ensure that all respondents were equal in their views, the study avoided any attempt to interfere with or incorporate existing business-related practices of SMEs, which could influence the findings of this study.

Main Findings: In order to enable manufacturing SMEs to pursue sustainable and profitable SR practices, the findings first propose a six-phase SR implementation methodology. Secondly, it includes a risk assessment matrix and thirdly, it is followed by a risk transition matrix. The risk assessment and transition matrices serve as determining factors for this sector to pursue such initiatives.

Applications of this study: This enables the adoption of SR initiatives which converts to business competitiveness while positioning the SME strategically from social or environmental or both perspectives. Strategic SR helps to position business, thus proving beneficial for this sector that lacks a method to address SR in a benefitting way. This is vital because strategically aligned SR is able to influence business positioning, thus proving beneficial by contributing to the revenue, image, and brand positioning for this sector.

Novelty/Originality of this study: Being a preliminary study, the findings identify the steps that are to be taken by manufacturing entities of smaller magnitude for SR-related business positioning.


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