Within the CSR-Ready project, UIIN has conducted a comprehensive literature review over businesses Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) practices. First, the literature review started with the identification of perceived benefits and barriers for businesses in the CSR application. Most relevantly, in terms of benefits, the literature often identifies cost and risk reduction, competitive advantage, legitimacy and reputation as the main drivers for CSR implementation. Barriers are more sector-specific and also appear differently depending on the country.
Further, the review zeroed in on the drivers for the implementation of CSR in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. Nonetheless, it has been difficult to clearly articulate what the drivers and benefits of CSR for SMEs are. It seems that the CSR scope and activities change depending on the size of the firm, its sector, its ecosystem, its country, and the current political, technological, and economic situation. Thirdly, UIIN focussed on the Dutch CSR national context for SMEs. The Netherlands is often identified as one of the most progressive and leading country for CSR practices for businesses and CSR legislations. Indeed, several initiatives exist both in the private and public sector. Similarly, the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition consists of eight Dutch multinational companies which aim to drive promote sustainable growth business models that combine economic profitability with environmental and social progress. At the public level, the government provides a basic framework for CSR in business and several instruments to help businesses taking into account CSR practices.
Yet, although several instruments and initiatives exist in the country, CSR practices remain marginal both for large, medium, and small businesses. In 2013, the Dutch government set a goal that by 2023, 90 per cent of the large companies in the Netherlands will explicitly endorse the OECD Guidelines and UN Guiding Principles for CSR as a reference framework for their international activities. However, the year 2019 provides a very different picture. It appears that only 35 per cent of large companies engage in CSR practices and that only 12 companies fulfilled all six steps of the OECD guidelines.