Corporate Social Responsibility and Tourism: Meaning, motivations and barriers in the Tanzanian tourism industry
This thesis explores how the notion of responsible business practice unfolds in a developing country context, Tanzania. The research provides important insights into how the socio-cultural environment shapes the uptake and focus of responsible practices of both foreign and local tourism companies in Tanzania. Through semi-structured interviews with 40 tourism company managers as well as content analysis of company homepages, the study: (1) Provides interpretations and meanings of Corporate Social responsibility (CSR); (2) Determines how tourism businesses employ CSR in their activities; and (3) Examines the rationale for CSR engagement (or not) from the perspectives of both foreign and locally owned tourism businesses in Tanzania. To address these objectives, the study findings are presented and analysed through the lens of institutional theory. The findings suggest that the participants are not only familiar with what constitutes socially responsible practices but are indeed engaging in some sort of CSR initiatives. According to the findings a responsible business is described based on its activities/actions as well as its values/virtues of integrity, benevolence, communalism, humanity and transparency. While for foreign owned companies, CSR initiatives such as environmental and working conditions of employees rank highly, community initiatives such as education is the main focus of the locally owned companies. Based on the findings, the focus on socio-economic issues mirrors the challenges facing many Tanzanian communities including poverty, poor health care and access to education. Reasons for engaging in CSR initiatives include maintaining social legitimacy, meeting community expectations/interdependence, attracting customers (tourists) as well as reflecting the personal values of managers. The study identifies a number of barriers to engagement with responsible practices including: conflict with local communities over resource use (land); lack of cooperation from stakeholders; mismanagement of community initiatives; and a regulatory regime that is discouraging for many tourism businesses (e.g. a punitive and unclear tax regime). In general terms, the study brings to light the importance of understanding and appreciating the values of local context as a critical factor for understanding how and why businesses adopt CSR activities. In particular, the study suggests that if CSR initiatives are to be legitimate, meaningful, and sustainable to local communities and the environment, companies need to allow the local institutional and socioeconomic factors to shape their CSR initiatives. The study contributes to the literature on sustainable tourism and CSR practice, especially as it relates to developing countries, a context in which the operationalisation of CSR is relatively under-explored. The study also offers some practical and policy-related suggestions for enhancing CSR practices in developing country contexts, including the need for the enactment of appropriate laws and policies that encourage, sensitize, enable and oblige tourism businesses to critically acknowledge the importance of engaging in responsible practices.
Advisor: Lovelock, Brent; Filep , Sebastian
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Tourism
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Corporate Social responsibility; tourism; Africa; Tanzania
Research Type: Thesis