Corporate social responsibility in the dental technology industry in KwaZulu-Natal
Zondi, Minenhle Promise Phamela
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This study investigated how corporate social responsibility (CSR) is understood within the KwaZulu-Natal dental technology industry, as an indication of the position of the industry nationally. The objectives of this study were to provide clarity regarding how the members of the dental technology industry in KwaZulu-Natal perceive CSR, to determine what is being practised in terms of CSR, and to provide possible insights into how the dental technology industry in KwaZulu-Natal might understand and consider CSR principles going into the future. This is a qualitative study conducted in the interpretive paradigm. The conceptual framework utilised for the study was Carroll’s CSR pyramid (1991) which was reviewed by Ferrell et al. (2010). For the purpose of this study CSR was understood to encompass the economic, legal and ethical aspects of running a business. It further extended into an understanding of philanthropy that goes beyond the primary purpose of a business. Simple random sampling was used to select participants for individual semi-structured interviews. The data collected was analysed using thematic content analysis. This study found that CSR is an unfamiliar term amongst dental laboratory owners and dental technicians. Dental laboratory owners and technicians failed to understand that CSR involves not only the basic aspects of running a business which are economic advancement but also compliance with legislation and ethics considerations. This study found that the poor understanding of CSR by dental laboratory owners and dental technicians stems from a poor understanding of basic business principles as was revealed in reported practices of the industry participants that lacked business ethical consideration. The perceived lack of participation in the industry by the South African Dental Technicians Council was seen to be a contributing factor to unethical behaviour within the industry. A degree of localised philanthropy was found to be practised by some in the industry. However, such practice was not generally accepted as a norm and that the industry should necessarily take cognisance of. The results generated by this study indicate that the dental technology industry’s lack of knowledge and understanding of CSR are such that industry should be informed and educated in CSR practices and that a coordinated approach to CSR practice by the industry is needed.