Sustainability of Small Businesses in Regional Australia through Social Responsibility: Collaboration Between Higher Education and the Economic Development Board

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Small business enterprises hold a central position in the Australian economy and society. Small business is more important than ever, with small business driving innovation, exports and jobs growth. Small businesses therefore have a responsibility to embrace the principles of sustainability and contribute to meeting the needs of current and future generations. The modern concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) involves the performance of companies in financial, social and environmental terms and includes the impact of business activities on suppliers, customers, employees, local community and the environment. To be sustainable, i.e. more efficient and profitable in the long run, small businesses should operate in socially and environmentally responsible ways and aspire to maximise stakeholder value by focusing on the “triple bottom line (also referred to as “Economic, Environmental & Social” or “Economy, Ecology & Equity” or “People, Planet & Profits). There is an urgent need for awareness and education of small businesses about the issue of CSR, especially in regional areas such as Whyalla in South Australia, an industrial area and a hub of small business activity. The purpose of the Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB) is, amongst others, “to promote the practical involvement of industrial and commercial companies in the development and general well-being of the community” and “to support the development and implementation of programs and projects that facilitate employment, economic and community development for Whyalla”. This joint research project between the local campus of the University of South Australia and the Whyalla Economic Development Board, investigates the awareness and social responsibility activities of small businesses in Whyalla and the challenges/opportunities they face in implementing such initiatives. The findings of the research will be used as a basis for developing the social and environmental responsibility of both business and society in the Whyalla region and will enable the university to assist the WEDB to play an active role in developing sustainable, socially responsible small businesses in the region.


Keywords: Sustainability, Small Businesses, Social and Environmental Responsibility, Higher Education, Economic Development Board
Stream: Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Nina Evans

Senior lecturer, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit
Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia

Whyalla, South Australia, Australia

DR. NINA EVANS is a Senior lecturer with the Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Centre for Regional Engagement at University of South Australia. Before moving to Australia in 2007 she was Head of the Department of Business Informatics and ICT leadership at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, South Africa. She was responsible for the general management of the department and was the leader of the research niche area in “ICT for business enhancement”. She has also been appointed as an extraordinary professor at this institution. She holds a number of undergraduate qualifications and a Masters degree in Information Technology, an MBA and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour. Her research interests are Organisational Behaviour and -development, Leadership (with a focus on Information Technology leadership), Business-IT fusion, E-business, Entrepreneurial Enterprises, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility of small businesses.

Dr. Janet Sawyer

Head, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit
Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia

Whyalla, SA, Australia

DR. JANET SAWYER is Head, Business and Regional Enterprise at the Centre of Regional Engagement of the University of South Australia. She is a senior lecturer in accounting and program director of the business programs at the Whyalla Campus and Mount Gambier Regional Centre. Her main area of research is on the links between knowledge of ergonomics, compliance, workplace culture and personal well-being and health in relation to the use of computer technology. Janet's teaching interests include accounting education, accounting for small business and current issues in financial reporting.

Ref: S08P0143