Student attitudes to socially responsible
business: a case study of mine workers in
Purpose – Given the proliferation of United Kingdom (UK) media headlines around the recent ﬁnancial
meltdown and the subsequent allocation of blame to government, bankers, the Bank of England and the
Financial Services Authority, it is clear that there is disquiet amongst the public as to how the crisis has
been handled. Business schools, both in the UK and worldwide, have been accused of failing to address
issues of governance in their curricula. Can the assumption be made that current curricula will have
prepared students to evaluate this key concept critically? This paper seeks to address these issues.
Design/methodology/approach – Taking a case study approach, this work sets out to explore the
attitudes of a cohort of 43 ﬁnal-year undergraduate students studying in a UK business school. It
focuses on an analysis of their written work on the sourcing of copper from Chile and its procurement by
the UK Royal Mint for coinage.
Findings – The ﬁndings indicate that students valued the inclusion of corporate social responsibility in
its widest context, and would welcome earlier inclusion within their curricula.
Originality/value – This is a timely point in their academic studies, as the students are preparing for
study at Master’s level or for the job market. The coursework required research into the production
process of raw material at the copper mines in Chile, as well as the ethical decision-making process of a
UK governmental agency. Although this is a small-scale study, it does offer some interesting insights into
student perspectives. The paper concludes with recommendations for future curriculum development.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Ethics, Supply chains, Business schools,
Corporate governance, Students
Paper type Research paper
Education and skills are the key to a competitive and efﬁcient workforce. Top quality management
and strong leadership is a crucial factor in this. Business and Management continues to be one of
the most popular University subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level (Rammell,
This paper starts by exploring the role of business schools in higher education and
addresses the wider issue of what is expected from these educational establishments. This
is a contested role and far from simple, with the wider global drivers of capitalism setting the
external business environment, and the implicit need for business schools to provide
graduates ‘‘ﬁt for purpose’’. From the latest data available, i.e. academic year 2007/2008,
almost one in seven of all students are studying business and management – a signiﬁcant
proportion of which studied at undergraduate level. During the past 13 years,
undergraduate study of this subject has risen by 66 per cent (Association of Business
Schools, 2009/2010, p. 19).
It is thus timely in the current economic crisis that student attitudes to studying business are
explored; and indeed, their attitudes to socially responsible business. This paper has as its
focus a small-scale study comprising 43 ﬁnal-year undergraduate students. They are
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY JOURNAL
VOL. 8 NO. 2 2012, pp. 174-185, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-1117 DOI 10.1108/17471111211234815
Debbie Holley is a Principal
Lecturer in the Faculty of
Education, Anglia Ruskin
University, Chelmsford, UK.
The author would like to
acknowledge Shaanvir Singh
Rehal (Researcher) for his
assistance with the analysis.