The Nature of The CSR Consultancy Industry in Mexico: Understanding its Structure, Conduct and Performance.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
In Mexico, extremes of poverty and wealth coexist while economic development tends to benefit only the already privileged minority. Formal employment opportunities are scarce and poverty is widespread. Regardless of the existence of multiple bodies of norms and legislation, government is not effective in assuring that businesses act in the interest of society.
Local stakeholder pressures are either absent or ineffective due to a lack of awareness and interest in CSR, and the prevalence of traditional business-CSO hostility. The Mexican government has taken a passive role concerning CSR and business organizations dominate the CSR agenda.
In this scenario, a new industry in CSR consultancy is emerging with the potential to grow and evolve. By furthering awareness and advancing CSR standards, consultants are creating a new paradigm for firms, social behaviour and their interaction with stakeholders. Nevertheless, there are potential problems that may affect consultants social role. Conflict of interests arise when they become a servant of two masters referring to consultants duty to society and their duty to customers.
Under these circumstances, there is a need to understand the type of tensions that consultants will face when advancing CSR, the motivations that may drive their actions and the extent of social change that they can realistically induce. In the interest of the CSR consultancy practice, the investigation attempts to search for fresh alternatives in promoting an ethical and normative approach to CSR.
Using a qualitative research methodology relying on semi-structured in depth interviews, leading actors from a variety of organizations in the CSR arena in Mexico City were interviewed. Findings show an emerging CSR consultancy industry, fragmented in nature and with few dominant actors. Regardless of the high growth potential identified for the industry, it faces important challenges that arise from a lack of awareness of the concept of CSR among firms and society in general, and a shortage of trained professionals.
Among the most relevant results, the limited role that consultants can play as agents of social change is notorious. Limitations are imposed by the absence of a strong CS sector and the indifference of government regarding CSR. Firms are mostly motivated by their desire to be part of the fad or in advancing a business case perspective of CSR. Consultants desire to pursue society's interest is in contradiction with these market trends, resulting in reduced possibilities of confronting social concerns expected by most respondents.
To ameliorate the impact of those limitations, several strategies are delineated, taking advantage of Mexican patterns of ownership, the efficacy of ethical incentives among Mexican executives and opportunities for different forms of partnerships.
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