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2013. Vol.4, No.4, 267-272
Published Online April 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) DOI:10.4236/ce.2013.44040
A Survey-Based Discussion on Perception
and Attitude towards CSR in China
School of English fo r International Business, G u a n g d ong University of F o reign Studies, Guangzhou, China
Email: wuyiming@gdufs. edu.cn
Received February 5th, 2013; revised March 7th, 2013; accepted March 20th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Yiming Wu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribu-
tion License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
The rapid growth of China’s economy is changing the current pattern of the international market. Never-
theless, scholars have concluded that there is a serious misconduct of CSR among Chinese enterprises.
This research is conducted based on a survey to some companies in Guangdong Province to investigate
the perception and attitudes of employees from enterprises towards CSR and sustainable development
with focuses on three aspects which includes enterprises’ understanding of CSR, the influence of enter-
prises’ stakeholders on their CSR and what enterprises should do to assume CSR. It can be concluded that
some enterprises have had some extent of CSR awareness and do assume CSR in their practices, however
enterprises’ attention to CSR is still not sufficient enough and only confines to solving social responsibil-
ity problems that closely related to their economic interests.
Keywords: Perception; Attitude; CSR; China
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was first defined in a
normative way by Bowen (1953) as “Corporate Social Respon-
sibility refers to the obligation of businessmen to pursue those
politics, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of
actions which are desirable in terms of the objectives and val-
ues of society”.
Ever since its emergence in the US in the 20th century, cor-
porate social responsibility (CSR) has provoked in depth re-
search by scholars from Western developed countries, and they
put forwards their respective theoretical viewpoints from dif-
ferent disciplines and domains on relevant issues on CSR. By
introducing the Western CSR theories, most domestic scholars
have integrated the theories with the practical situation in China
and have studied it from different perspectives.
The rapid growth of China’s economy is changing the cur-
rent pattern of the international market. “Made in China” is
transcending its traditional endowment advantage of low labor
cost into scale and scope economy level, however, the depend-
ence of China’s economic development on natural endowments
such as labor, minerals, environment etc., not only brings a
series of side effects to its economy and society but also exerts
a certain extent of impact on the normal pattern of international
economic operation through free trade under economic global-
After the research of the status quo of CSR shouldered by
Chinese enterprises, a vast majority of the scholars have con-
cluded that there is a serious lack of CSR among Chinese en-
terprises. Through the investigation of 1500 enterprises, Yin
Gefei, Yu Zhihong and Wu Fushun (2005) think that the lack of
CSR among Chinese enterprises is so serious that China needs
to put more efforts on establishing a set of enterprise theory
system and appraisal mechanism appropriate to China’s practi-
cal situation, strengthening legislative oversight, enhancing
public participation and the management level of CSR of enter-
prises. By analyzing the disharmony between the “strong” capi-
tal and “weak” labor, the disharmony brought by the lack of
credit, the disharmony caused by epitaxial extensive economic
growth mode, and the lack of responsibility in programs of
public good and by analyzing the roots of the lack of CSR, Li
Bizhen (2006) proposes to improve the lack of CSR from idea,
behavior and insurance. Duan Xiangyun (2006) studies the
problems in the current shouldering of CSR among Chinese
enterprises and these problems mainly include the lack of “Peo-
ple First” idea, the lack of environmental protection awareness
and the serious short-term behaviors, and he also analyzes the
causes of these problems and put up with countermeasures. In
their sample survey on enterprises in Zhejiang Province, China,
Chen Xudong, Yu Xunda (2007) find that though the CSR
awareness of private enterprises is no weaker than that of
state-owned enterprises and foreign enterprises in China, their
CSR awareness is still at the primary stage and their perception
of legal responsibilities is higher than that of enterprise ethical
and charitable responsibility. Meanwhile a certain extent of
strategic consciousness is already shown in the social responsi-
bility behaviors of private enterprises. Though the implementa-
tion of CSR has made some progress in China, Li Youhuan &
Guo Wenmei (2009) insist that generally enterprises’ percep-
tion of CSR is still not completely right; and some hold that the
performance of CSR is to force enterprises to carry out social
construction responsibilities and is still the integration of gov-
ernment with enterprises.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 267
Y. M. WU
This questionnaire with 25 questions is designed with the
help of Dr. Lez Michael to investigate the perception and atti-
tudes of employees from enterprises towards CSR and sustain-
able development in China with its focuses on three aspects
which include enterprises’ understanding of CSR, the influence
of enterprises’ stakeholders on their CSR and what enterprises
should do to assume CSR.
In all, 127 questionnaires are collected, among which, 65 are
in paper versions and 62 are electronic ones. The age of the
respondents ranges from 22 to 50, mainly male; 58% of them
are master students, among which, 55% are MBA students and
37% have gained bachelor degree with an average working age
of 6.5 years in their current enterprises, and 54% of them are
managers or above, indicating that they are very familiar with
the enterprises they are working in; 32% of the respondents are
from state-owned enterprises, 28% are from foreign enterprises
in China, and 16% are from private enterprises; as to the or-
ganizations the respondents are working for, 32% are manufac-
turers, 21% are government agencies, covering a large range of
social sectors; 56% of the enterprises are small enterprises with
less than 200 employees, 26% are large enterprises with over
2000 employees, 18% are medium enterprises; of the enter-
prises, 58% are local enterprises in Guangzhou, 16% are in
Shenzhen, 8% are in Dongguan, the rest are in Foshan, Zhong-
shan, Qingyuan, Zhuhai, Taishan, Zhaoqing, Beijing, Shanghai,
Changsha, Hongkong, Macao etc.
Analysis and Discussion on Some Key Issues
from Respondents’ Perspectives
Understanding the Implication of CSR
Among the respondents, 31.5% regard companies’ caring
about people and planet and profit as companies’ corporate
responsibilities, then comes companies’ behaving ethically (not
cheating) followed by companies’ obeying regulation. In con-
sidering CSR, the majority of the respondents paid attention to
social benefits, thinking that environment, people, sustainable
development etc. are important components of CSR. Among
them, some people think that sustainable development can be
realized through changing consumption behaviors by business
or by searching competition opportunities to influence govern-
ment decision-making. Only 3.15% respondents insist that sus-
tainable development can be realized by simply following gov-
ernment’s decisions. It is safe to conclude that those who insist
to take the initiative to realize sustainable development are
dominating. The survey result can be found in Figure 1.
Collected data in Figure 2 shows 99.21% respondents think
that sustainability is an important socio-economic issue while
69.29% of the respondents insist that social responsibilities
should be shared by enterprises and the government, instead of
being shouldered by the government alone; meanwhile, 27.56%
think that social responsibilities is of help to enterprises to en-
hance competition opportunities(see Figure 3). The results
from collected questionnaires also indicate that 72.44% (among
which 44.88% chose “strongly disagree” while 27.56% chose
“partly disagree”) do not regard CSR as a luxury, and on the
contrary, they regard it as a necessity for enterprises to assume .
Viewing from the perspective of enterprises, they found
through their point-of-scale terminal that customers (75.6%) are
willing to spend more on the public tested products, for exam-
ple products of fair trade; while others (64.56%) are willing to
spend more on sustainable products.
When it comes to the deep understanding of CSR, over half
of the respondents (56.7%) do not regard that CSR is more
about public relations, which means that people do not think
CSR as the tool for enterprises to establish relations with out-
siders (such as consumers, governments etc.) and for show. As
many as 72.45% of the respondents insist that sustainable poli-
cies are vital for any enterprise to gain profit; 67.71% of the
subjects think that CSR is vital for any enterprise to gain profit;
65.36% of the respondents hold that under the current economic
environment, CSR cannot be prioritized; 75.59% insist that
when it is necessary to implement social projects, they would
like to sacrifice short-term gains for long-tem returns.
On the whole, the investigation shows that a large majority
of the respondents have a comparatively clear perception of
CSR, recognizing that CSR is a must for enterprises to shoulder
and perform in order to survive, meanwhile, they also insist that
environmental protection, caring about people, sustainability
are important elements of CSR. At the same time, more than
How do you understand the implication of corporate responsibility?
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s.
Y. M. WU
Is sustainability an important socio-economic issue?
If choose “Yes”, what is the role of business?
half of the respondents (67.71%) think that CSR is vital for any
enterprise to gain profit, while 65.36% think that under the cur-
rent economic environment, CSR cannot be prioritized, which
indicates that though enterprises have strong CSR awareness, it
cannot be performed well enough due to external environment
constraints (social, economic, technological elements etc.).
Stakeholders’ Influence on CSR Enterprises Ought to
What kinds of core elements do enterprises consider when
they make the decision on whether or how to assume CSR?
Who makes the final decision in enterprises? What kinds of
stakeholders’ suggestions will enterprises consider? These ques-
tions are answered clearly from multiple perspectives in the
second part of the questionnaire.
The first question in the second part of the questionnaire is:
What do you see as the top drivers for a responsible business?
The designer of the questionnaire intends to find the benefici-
aries of CSR by analyzing the answers of the respondents.
There are eight choices for this question and they are A: Re-
sponsibility toward customer expectations; B: Responsibility
toward local community; C: Responsibility toward employees;
D: Responsibility toward employees; E: Responsibility toward
shareholders; F: Act ethically; G: Being profitable; H: Other
____ (Please specify). In the eight choices, the top three are A:
Responsibility toward customer expectations; D: Responsibility
toward employees; and G: Being profitable, and their propor-
tions are 42.52%, 28.35%, and 25.2% respectively, which indi-
cates that the common recognition among the respondents are
that enterprises should be firstly responsible for customers,
shareholders and environment. The result can be found in Fig-
The second question in this part is: What are the main factors
you take into account as an employee when thinking about your
organization’s reputation. Viewing from the answers, the top
three include product/brand quality, social responsibility, and
environmental responsibility. Based on the significance of the
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 269
Y. M. WU
What are the top drivers for a responsible business?
answers, the first one is product/quality with a proportion of
45.67%, the second one is social responsibility, 33.86% and the
third one is environmental responsibility. It can be concluded
that from the employees’ point of view, enterprises should pri-
oritize responsibilities for product, society and environment in
forging enterprise reputation.
The third question involves how much impact would you say
that (a … m) has on your company’s approach to social and
environmental performance? The questionnaire has four choic-
es “No impact”, “Very little impact”, “Some impact”, and “Sig-
nificant impact”, which increase in degree for this question.
The 127 respondents focus mainly on broad influence, senior
management influence, shareholder influence and cost reduc-
tion, and their proportions are 74.8%, 66.93%, 57.48%, 48.82%
respectively. It can be concluded from the data that more than
half of the respondents regard the power from the enterprises
within and internal shareholders are the determinant factors to
CSR. Result is shown on Table 1.
It can be concluded from the above analysis and data that the
“Responsibility” in Corporate Social Responsibility is the re-
sponsibility to consumers, shareholders and the environment,
while the cultivation of the reputation of an enterprise is de-
pendent on the enterprise’s ability to produce the product that
satisfy customer needs and the contributions the enterprise
make to environmental-protection. The assumption of CSR by
enterprises is mainly influenced by internal stakeholders, such
as shareholders, broad and senior management, who are con-
sidered to be the determinant elements on whether CSR can be
Practices of Enterprises’ Assumption of CSR
Investigation shows that 39% of the enterprises surveyed
participated in activities relevant to CSR, and most of the ac-
tivities are donation, financial aid for impoverished students,
tree-planting, charitable activities etc. Some enterprises also
established employee mutual aid mechanism or fund for im-
poverish employees. Subjects indicate that they learn about
their enterprises’ participation in the above activities from in-
ternal sources such as internal internet, emails, notice, propa-
ganda materials, conferences, and colleagues or from external
sources such as newspapers, TV and internet, and some even
experienced the activities; however what is worthy of noticing
is that enterprises that did not participate in such activities and
have no such rules and regulation still occupy a large propor-
tion of the total enterprises surveyed.
As per results shown on Table 2, about 60% of the subjects
say that their enterprises are working on solving resource con-
sumption problems (power, natural gas, water etc.), recyclable
problems (packaging, paper, food, water etc.) and the balance
between work and life of the employees; however 50% of the
enterprises surveyed indicate that all have no definite plan to
resolve the other six issues closely related to CSR in the ques-
tionnaire. Among these issues emissions from transportation of
goods, values and ethics, emissions from the employees trans-
port and social performance of suppliers attract more attention
comparatively, and 10% - 20% of the enterprises surveyed in-
dicate that they would resolve the above issues in the next three
years. In a word, the reason why enterprises care most about
resource consumption and environment pollution is probably
because these problems are closely related to their economic
interest; however, whatever the reasons are, enterprises’ caring
about these issues is beneficial for the sustainable development
of both enterprises and the society.
From Table 3, we can find that majority of enterprises (over
50%) pay attention to some international standards such as
ISO14001, ISO26000, CSC9000, UN Millennium Develop-
ment Goals, UN Global Compact Initiative and International
Labor Organization related to CSR; however, only ISO14001,
ISO26000 and CSC9000 are employed. ISO14001 grabs the
most attention, 65% of the enterprises surveyed indicate that
they know something about it and 20% are employing the
standard in their operations. However, most of the respondents
show that they have never heard of most of the international
standards, let alone adhering to or employing them. The three
stands, i.e., AA1000, Triple Bottom Line and Principles of Re-
sponsible Management have got the lowest awareness rate.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s.
Y. M. WU
Over 70% of the respondents expressed they had never heard of
How much impact would you say that (choose one or more) has on your company’s approach to social and environmental performance?
Subject/Option No Impact Very Little ImpactSome Impact Significant Impact
A. Board Influence ( e.g. policies, st atements) 5 (3.94%) 10 (7.87%) 17 (13.39%) 95 (74.8%)
B. Senior Management Influence (e.g. statements, actions) 2 (1.57%) 11 (8.66%) 29 (22.83%) 85 (66.93%)
C. Middle Management Influence (e.g. statements, actions) 5 (3.94%) 34 (26.77%) 77 (60.63%) 11 (8.66%)
D. Shareholder Influence (e.g. statements, action) 3 (2.36%) 15 (11.81%) 36 (28.35%) 73 (57.48%)
E. Potential Investor Pressure (e.g. statement, actions) 13 (10.24%) 39 (30.71%) 53 (41.73%) 22 (17.32%)
F. Employee Influence (e.g. actions) 13 (10.24%) 61 (48.03%) 36 (28.35%) 17 (13.39%)
G. Government Regulations 5 (3.94%) 11 (8.66%) 54 (42.52%) 57 (44.88%)
H. Cost Reduction 4 (3.15%) 7 (5.51%) 54 (42.52%) 62 (48.82%)
I. Risk Management (legal risk, financial risk, reputation risk)3 (2.36%) 14 (11.02%) 69 (54.33%) 41 (32.28%)
J. Competitor Action (e.g. st rategy, action ) 7 (5.51%) 26 (20.47%) 70 (55.12%) 24 (18.9%)
K. Supply Chain Pressure 4 (3.15%) 40 (31.5%) 58 (45.67%) 25 (19.69%)
L. Consumer Pressure 6 (4.72%) 35 (27.56%) 54 (42.52%) 32 (25.2%)
M. External Pressure Groups (e.g. statement, actions) 7 (5.51%) 42 (33.07%) 58 (45.67%) 20 (15.75%)
Please indicate whether your organization is managing each issue below (choose one or more), or plan to manage them within the next 3 years.
Subject/Option Currently ManageWill Manage in the Next 3
Years No Plan to Manage in the Next
A. Resource Consumption (electricity, gas, water) 75 (59.06%) 12 (9.45%) 40 (31.5%)
B. Recycling (packaging, paper, food, water) 85 (66.93%) 10 (7.87%) 32 (25.2%)
C. Employee Transport Emissions (air, cars) 25 (19.69%) 16 (12.6%) 86 (67.72%)
D. Goods Transport Emissions 31 (24.41%) 25 (19.69%) 71 (55.91%)
E. Human Rights, Including Child Labor 43 (33.86%) 9 (7.09%) 75 (59.06%)
F. Employment Equalit y and Diversity 49 (38.58%) 12 (9.45%) 66 (51.97%)
G. Value, Ethics 49 (38.58%) 22 (17.32%) 56 (44.09%)
H. Employee Work/Life Balance 77 (60.63%) 15 (11.81%) 35 (27.56%)
I. Social Performance of Supply Chain 39 (30.71%) 13 (10.24%) 75 (59.06%)
How familiar are you with these standards.
Subject/Option Never Heard of It Heard of It Know about It Using It
A. AA1000 106 (83.46%) 20 (15.75%) 1 (0.79%) 0 (0%)
B. ISO14001 45 (35.43%) 45 (35.43%) 12 (9.45%) 25 (19.69%)
C. ISO26000 67 (52.76%) 45 (35.43%) 11 (8.66%) 4 (3.15%)
D. CSC9000 53 (41.73%) 56 (44.09%) 15 (11.81%) 3 (2.36%)
E. UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 59 (46.46%) 55 (43.31%) 13 (10.24%) 0 (0%)
F. UN Global Compact Initiative 65 (51.18%) 49 (38.58%) 13 (10.24%) 0 (0%)
G. Triple Bottom Line 98 (77.17%) 24 (18.9%) 5 (3 .94%) 0 (0%)
H. Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)92 (72.44%) 30 (23.62%) 5 (3.94%) 0 (0%)
I. Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) 73 (57.48%) 46 (36.22%) 8 (6.3%) 0 (0%)
J. International Labor Organization (ILO) 48 (37.8%) 62 (48.82%) 17 (13.39%) 0 (0%)
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 271
Y. M. WU
K. Other ______ (Please specify) 117 (92.13%) 8 (6.3%) 2 (1.57%) 0 (0%)
the three standards before. Enterprises’ insufficient attention on
these international standards indicates that they still lack CSR
awareness and executive force.
Based on the above data and analysis, it can be concluded
that some enterprises have had some extent of CSR awareness
and do assume CSR in their practices, however enterprises’
attention to CSR is still not sufficient enough and only confines
to solving social responsibility problems that closely related to
their economic interests.
Bowen, H. R. (1953). Social responsibility of the businessman. New
York: Harper & Row.
Chen, X. D., & Yu, X. D. (2007). Status quo of awareness of private
enterprises on CSR and comments. Journal of Zhejiang University, 3.
Duan, X. Y. (2006). CSR in China: Status and countermeasures. Tian-
jin: Tianjin Business College.
Li, B. Z. (2006). Misconduct of CSR: Status, reasons and countermea-
sures. Enterprise Economy, 6.
Li, Y. H., & Guo, W. M. (2009). How can China speed up the process
of CSR implementation. World Environment, 3.
Yin, G. F., Yu, Z. H., & Wu, F. S. (2005). A survey report on CSR in
China. WTO Tribune, 9.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s.
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