How startups can develop CSR to build brand reputation
This qualitative diploma study paper examines the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in building brand reputation and competitive advantage of SME startups and seeks to explore the drivers to, the importance of and best practice applications of CSR activities by startups. It furthers seeks to explore customers’ impressions of startup sustainability and CSR practices and the reputation of the firm. The study adopted an interpretivist study design (thematic analysis) , focused on a sample of CSR specialists, advertisers and startup owners, and revealed a reflection of the theoretical dimension of CSR in the study results. Specifically, the social dimension of CSR implementation and the adoption of practices that focus on human resources, the environment and society at large, were captured in the data. Basic CRS principles, such as the need for development and implementation of environmental awareness programs, volunteering and labor were commonly agreed by the participants as relevant emerging themes of the study. Furthermore, the results pointed out the importance of company ethics in shaping a healthy (for employees work environment) and highlighting the important role of purpose of the firm. The emphasis on building relationships with society as a whole and specifically with the community in which the company operates, seems to be the key to a profitable implementation of CSR, regarding brand reputation. The reciprocal relationship that is created between the customer who feels that the company is not solely for profit, but in its connection with the community is the basis for a profitable course. Voluntary actions organized by the firm to support the community, is seen as a means for brand reputation building. Finally, the study reveals the importance of the formation of an appropriate working environment, in which employees feel free, proud of their work and protected from discrimination.