Perceptions of corporate social
responsibility amongst immigrant
Fara Azmat and Ambika Zutshi
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the understanding of the term corporate social
responsibility (CSR) by Sri Lankan immigrant entrepreneurs in Australia. It also seeks to investigate the
importance the entrepreneurs place on CSR, their understanding of stakeholders, the types of CSR
activities undertaken by them, and the issue of social capital.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews
with Sri Lankan entrepreneurs based in Victoria, Australia.
Findings – The interviewees were aware of the term CSR but, nevertheless, had different interpretations
of its meaning. However, CSR was considered important and all the interviewees were, in some way,
involved in CSR activities and also had a good understanding of the importance of their stakeholders.
Findings also highlighted the signiﬁcance attached to social capital by the entrepreneurs such as
informal relationships and trustworthiness which build the intangible attributes of CSR. The present
ﬁndings can be attributed to immigrant entrepreneurs behaving partly to adapt to the host country, by
changing their beliefs, values, traditions and partly by being inﬂuenced by their home country culture as
found in the extended part of this current study.
Research limitations/implications – This paper addresses gaps in the ﬁelds of both CSR and
immigrant entrepreneurship literature. However, the small sample size is a limitation and further research
is required in order to generalize the ﬁndings.
Originality/value – It is important to have an understanding of the interpretation of social responsibility
amongst immigrant entrepreneurs. Despite the steadily growing number of Sri Lankan immigrant
entrepreneurs and their potential impact on the Victorian and Australian socio-economic context, this
area remains under-researched. This paper addresses this gap in the literature and makes an attempt to
provide insight into this area that can be used as a catalyst for future research.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Immigrant entrepreneurs, Sri Lanka, Stakeholders,
Social capital, Entrepreneurialism
Paper type Research paper
As immigrant businesses in western countries continue to grow in numbers, immigrant
entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming an area of interest (Dana, 2007; McDougall and
Oviatt, 2000). With trends such as globalization and technological advancement, immigrants
will not only continue to fuel population growth but will signiﬁcantly contribute to the economy
of these countries in the years ahead. Australia, along with other countries like the US,
Canada and the UK, has a long history of receiving migrants. Since early 1945, the number
of migrants has grown steadily, with seven million people arriving in Australia as new settlers,
thus comprising one-third of Australia’s population of 21.6 million in December 2008
(Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2009a). Immigrants have not only inﬂuenced
the social, cultural and demographic make-up of the country, they are also involved in a
range of entrepreneurial activities (Collins, 2003), thus contributing to many aspects of the
DOI 10.1108/17471111211196575 VOL. 8 NO. 1 2012, pp. 63-76, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-1117
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY JOURNAL
Fara Azmat is a Lecturer
and Ambika Zutshi is a
Senior Lecturer, both in the
School of Management and