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The online users’ engagement with e-Government services

This is an excerpt from my latest academic contribution.

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The online users’ perceptions toward electronic government services. Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society. 10.1108/JICES-09-2019-0102


tech

Several governments around the globe are utilizing the digital and mobile technologies to enhance the provision of their public services (EuroParl, 2015; Zuiderwijk Janssen & Dwivedi. 2015). Digital and mobile services are the facilitating instruments that are enabling all levels of the governments’ operations, to better service their citizens, big businesses, small enterprises and non-profit organizations (Wirtz & Birkmeyer, 2018; Rana & Dwivedi, 2015; Evans & Campos, 2013). The-governments are increasingly relying on ICT, including computers, websites and business process re-engineering (BPR) to engage with online users (Isaías, Pífano & Miranda, 2012; Weerakkody, Janssen & Dwivedi, 2011). Hence, the delivery of e-government and m-government services may usually demand the public service to implement specific transformational processes and procedures that are ultimately intended to add value to customers (Pereira, Macadar, Luciano & Testa, 2017).  Previously, the-governments’ consumers relied on face-to-face interactions or on telephone communications to engage with their consumers. Gradually, many governments had introduced interactive communications as departments and their officials started using the emails to engage with online users. Today, citizens and businesses can communicate and interact with the-government departments and agencies in real-time, through virtual call centers, via instant-messaging (IM), graphical user interfaces (GUI) and audio/video presentations.

In the past, the-governments’ services were operated in administrative silos of information (EuroParl, 2017). However, the electronic governance involves the data exchange between the-government and its stakeholders, including the businesses as well as the general public (Pereira et al., 2017; Rana & Dwivedi, 2015; Chun et al., 2010). The advances in interactive technologies have brought significant improvements in the delivery of service quality to online users of the Internet (Sá, Rocha & Cota, 2016; Isaías et al., 2012). As a result, the e-government and m-government services have become refined and sophisticated. Thus, the provision of online services is more efficient and less costly when compared to the offline services.

However, there are still many citizens and businesses who for various reasons may not want to engage with the-governments’ electronic and/or mobile services (Shareef, Kumar, Dwivedi & Kumar, 2016; 2014). This argumentation is conspicuous with the digital divide in society as not everyone is benefiting from an equitable access and democratic participation in the Internet or from the e-government systems (Ebbers, Jansen & van Deursen, 2016; Friemel, 2016; Luna-Reyes, Gil-Garcia & Romero, 2012; Isaías, Miranda & Pífano, 2009). The low usage of e-government systems impedes the ability of many governments to connect to citizens (Danila & Abdullah, 2014). Mensah (2018) held that the government authorities should promote the utilization of user-friendly mobile applications as the majority of citizens are increasingly engaging with their smartphones for different purposes, including to access information and services. Many countries around the world have introduced online government portals can be accessed through desktop computers as well as via mobile-friendly designs (Camilleri, 2019a; Ndou, 2004). Massey et al. (2019) posited that the government’s electronic services can be integrated among different devices in order to ensure an effective service delivery. These authors also maintained that the citizens are increasingly relying on the features of the mobile technologies as they are always connected to wireless networks. Their portable, mobile devices can provide access to a wide array of public information at any time and in any place (Camilleri & Camilleri, 2019; Wirtz & Birkmeyer, 2018; Sareen, Punia, & Chanana, 2013).

In a similar vein, many citizens may easily access their respective government’s online portal via virtual, open networks. They can also receive instantaneous messages and responses from the governments’ public service systems in their mobile devices, including smart phones or tablets (Shareef et al., 2016). Therefore, m-governance can possibly enhance the quality of the public services in terms of improved efficiency and cost savings (Madden, Bohlin, Oniki, & Tran, 2013). Notwithstanding, in the near future, the government’s electronic systems will be in a better position to exceed their citizens’  expectations, in terms of quality of service (Li & Shang, 2019). The advances in technology, including the increased massive wireless data traffic from different application scenarios, as well as the efficient resource allocation schemes will be better exploited to improve the capacity of online and mobile networks (Zhang, Liu, Chu, Long, Aghvami & Leung, 2017). For instance, the fifth generation (5G) of mobile communication systems is expected to enhance  the citizens’ service quality as they may offer higher mobile connection speeds, capacities and reduced latencies (Osseiran, Boccardi, Braun, Kusume, Marsch, Maternia & Tullberg, 2014; Zhang et al., 2017).

Nevertheless, despite these technological breakthroughs, there are many citizens who are still reluctant to use the-governments’ electronic and/or mobile services as they hold negative perceptions toward public administration (Wirtz & Birkmeyer, 2018; Shareef, Dwivedi, Stamati, & Williams, 2014). These individuals are not comfortable to share their personal information online (Van Deursen & Van Dijk, 2014). They may perceive that e-government and/or m-government platforms are risky and unsecure (Conradie & Choenni, 2014; Bélanger & Carter, 2008). Consequentially, they will decide not to upload their data as they suspect that it can be used by third parties (Picazo-Vela et al., 2012; Bélanger & Carter, 2008).

References (these are all the references that appeared in the bibliography section of the full paper).

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Ajzen, I. (1991), “The theory of planned behavior”, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 179-211.

Bélanger, F. and Carter, L. (2008), “Trust and risk in e-government adoption”, The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 165-176.

Camilleri, M. A. and Camilleri, A.C. (2017a), “The technology acceptance of mobile applications in education”, In 13th International Conference on Mobile Learning (Budapest, April 10th). Proceedings, International Association for Development of the Information Society.

Camilleri, M.A., and Camilleri, A.C. (2017b), “Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education”, Technology, Knowledge and Learning, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 65-82.

Camilleri, M. A. (2019a), “Exploring the Behavioral Intention to Use e-Government Services: Validating the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology”. 9th International Conference on Internet Technologies & Society, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. IADIS.

Camilleri, M. (2019b), “The SMEs’ technology acceptance of digital media for stakeholder engagement”, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 504-521.

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Conradie, P. and Choenni, S. (2014), “On the barriers for local government releasing open data”, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 31, pp. S10-S17.

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Isaías, P., Pífano, S. and Miranda, P. (2012), “Web 2.0: Harnessing democracy’s potential”, In Public Service, Governance and Web 2.0 Technologies: Future Trends in Social Media (pp. 223-236). Hershey, USA: IGI Global.

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Li, Y. and Shang, H. (2019), “Service quality, perceived value, and citizens’ continuous-use intention regarding e-government: Empirical evidence from China”, Information & Management, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378720617306912

Luna-Reyes, L. F., Gil-Garcia, J. R. and Romero, G. (2012), “Towards a multidimensional model for evaluating electronic government: Proposing a more comprehensive and integrative perspective”, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 324-334.

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Mensah, I. K. (2018), “Citizens’ Readiness to adopt and use e-government services in the city of Harbin, China”, International Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 297-307.

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Osseiran, A., Boccardi, F., Braun, V., Kusume, K., Marsch, P., Maternia, M. and Tullberg, H. (2014), “Scenarios for 5G mobile and wireless communications: the vision of the METIS project”, IEEE Communications Magazine, Vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 26-35.

Park, S.Y., Nam, M.W. and Cha, S. B. (2012), “University students’ behavioral intention to use mobile learning: Evaluating the technology acceptance model”, British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 592-605.

Pereira, G. V., Macadar, M. A., Luciano, E. M. and Testa, M. G. (2017), “Delivering public value through open government data initiatives in a Smart City context”, Information Systems Frontiers, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 213-229.

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Venkatesh, V., Morris, M.G., Davis, G.B. and Davis, F.D. (2003), “User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view”, MIS Quarterly, pp. 425-478.

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The Students’ Engagement with Mobile Learning Technologies

These are excerpts from our latest academic article.

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2019). The Students’ Readiness to Engage with Mobile Learning Apps. Interactive Technology and Smart Education. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/ITSE-06-2019-0027/full/html


Hand-held mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets allow individuals, including students, to access and review online (educational) content from virtually anywhere. The mobile applications (apps) can provide instant access to the schools’ learning resources (Camilleri & Camilleri, 2019b; Sánchez & Isaías, 2017; Cheon, Lee, Crooks & Song, 2012). Therefore, they are increasingly being utilized in the context of primary education to improve the student experience. Relevant theoretical underpinnings reported that more primary level students are utilizing mobile learning technologies to engage with their instructors (Rodríguez, Riaza & Gómez, 2017; Sánchez & Isaías, 2018). Notwithstanding, it is much easier for the younger pupils to mobile apps to read eBooks, as hard-copy textbooks need to be carried in their bags. Arguably, the proliferation of portable technologies like tablets are lighter and less bulky than laptop computers. Hence, primary school students can easily use mobile technologies anywhere, beyond the traditional classroom environment (Rodríguez et al., 2017). Currently, there is a wide variety of educational apps that are readily available on a wide array of mobile devices (Chee, Yahaya, Ibrahim &Hasan, 2017; Domingo & Garganté, 2016). Such interactive technologies can improve the delivery of quality education as teachers provide direct feedback to their students, in real time. Some of the mobile apps can even engage primary school students in immersive learning experiences (Camilleri & Camilleri,2019c; Isaias, Reis, Coutinho & Lencastre, 2017).

On the other hand, other academic literature posited that some students may not want to engage in mobile learning. Very often, commentators implied that the mobile technologies have their own limitations (Cheon et al., 2012; Wang, Wu & Wang, 2009). A few practitioners contended that mobile devices had small screens with low resolutions. Alternatively, some argued about their slow connection speeds, or pointed out that they lacked standardization features  (Sánchez & Isaías, 2017; Camilleri & Camilleri,2017).

As a matter of fact, Android, Apple and Microsoft Windows have different operating systems. As a result, learning apps may have to be customized to be compatible with such systems. Moreover, individuals, including primary school students may hold different attitudes towards the use of mobile devices. There may be students who may be motivated to engage with mobile technologies (Sánchez & Isaias, 2018; Ciampa, 2014) as they use these devices to play games, watch videos, or to chat with their friends, online (Wang et al., 2009). In this case, the primary school students may use their mobile devices for hedonic reasons, rather than to engage in mobile learning activities. Such usage of the mobile technologies can possibly result in undesired educational outcomes. Nevertheless, those primary level students who already own or have instant access to a mobile device may easily become habitual users of this technology; as they use it for different purposes. However, there is still limited research in academia that explores these students’ readiness to engage in mobile learning at home, and at school.


Results

The findings in this study are consistent with the argument that digital natives are increasingly immersing themselves in digital technologies (Bourgonjon et al., 2010), including educational games (Camilleri & Camilleri,2019; Ge & Ifenthaler, 2018; Carvalho et al., 2015, Wouters et al., 2013). However, the results have shown that there was no significant relationship between the perceived ease of the gameplay and the children’s enjoyment in them. Furthermore, the stepwise regression analysis revealed that there was no significant relationship between the normative expectations and the children’s engagement with the educational apps; although it was evident (from the descriptive statistics) that the parents were encouraging their children to play the games at home and at school. This research relied on previously tried and tested measures that were drawn from the educational technology literature in order to explore the hypothesized relationships. There is a common tendency in academic literature to treat the validity and reliability of quantitative measures from highly cited empirical papers as given.

Future studies may use different sampling frames, research designs and methodologies to explore this topic. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other empirical study that has validated the technology acceptance model within a primary school setting. Further work is needed to replicate the findings of this research in a similar context.


References (the full bibliography of this paper)

Ajzen, I. (1991), “The theory of planned behavior”, Organization Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 179-211.

Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., and Schellens, T. (2010), “Students’ perceptions about the use of educational games in the classroom”, Computers & Education, Vol. 54, No. 4, pp. 1145-1156.

Burguillo, J.C. (2010), “Using game theory and competition-based learning to stimulate student motivation and performance”, Computers & Education, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 566-575.

Camilleri, M.A. and Camilleri, A. (2017a), “The Technology Acceptance of Mobile Applications in Education”, In Sánchez, I.A. & Isaias, P. (Eds) 13th International Conference on Mobile Learning (Budapest, 11th April). Proceedings, pp 41-48. International Association for Development of the Information Society.

Camilleri, M.A., and Camilleri, A.C. (2017b), “Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education”, Technology, Knowledge and Learning, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 65-82.

Camilleri, M. A., and  Camilleri, A. (2019a), “Student Centred Learning Through Serious Games”, 13th Annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference. Valencia, Spain (March, 2019). International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED).

Camilleri, A.C., and Camilleri, M.A. (2019b), “Mobile Learning via Educational Apps: An Interpretative Study”. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea (May, 2019). International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC).

Camilleri, A.C., and Camilleri, M.A. (2019c), “The Students Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games”, In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea (May, 2019). International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC).

Carvalho, M.B., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., De Gloria, A., Sedano, C.I., Hauge, H.B., Hu, J., and Rauterberg, M. (2015), “An activity theory-based model for serious games analysis and conceptual design”, Computers & Education, Vol. 87, pp.166-181.

Chang, C.T., Hajiyev, J., and Su, C.R. (2017), “Examining the students’ behavioral intention to use e-learning in Azerbaijan? The general extended technology acceptance model for e-learning approach”, Computers & Education, Vol. 111, pp. 128-143.

Chee, K. N., Yahaya, N., Ibrahim, N. H., and Hasan, M. N. (2017). Review of mobile learning trends 2010-2015: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Technology & Society20(2), 113-126.

Chen, K. C. and Jang, S. J. (2010), “Motivation in online learning: Testing a model of self-determination theory”, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 741-752.

Cheon, J., Lee, S., Crooks, S. M. and Song, J. (2012), “An investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher education based on the theory of planned behavior”, Computers & Education, Vol. 59, No. 3, pp. 1054-1064.

Ciampa, K. (2014), “Learning in a mobile age: an investigation of student motivation”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 82-96.

Connolly, T.M., Boyle, E.A., MacArthur, E.  Hainey, T., and Boyle, J.M. (2012), “A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games”, Computers & Education, Vol. 59, No. 2, pp. 661-686.

Davis, F.D. (1989), “Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 319-340.

Davis, F.D., Bagozzi, R.P., and Warshaw, P.R. (1989), “User acceptance of computer technology: a comparison of two theoretical models”, Management Science, Vol. 35, No. 8, pp. 982-1003.

Dickey, M.D. (2011), “Murder on Grimm Isle: The impact of game narrative design in an educational game‐based learning environment”, British Journal of Education Technology, Vol. 42, No.  3, pp. 456-469.

Domingo, M. G. and Garganté, A. B. (2016). Exploring the use of educational technology in primary education: Teachers’ perception of mobile technology learning impacts and applications’ use in the classroom. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 56, pp. 21-28.

Dunne, Á., Lawlor, M. A., and Rowley, J. (2010), “Young people’s use of online social networking sites–a uses and gratifications perspective”, Journal of Research in International Marketing,. Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.  46-58.

Ge, X., and Ifenthaler, D. (2018), “Designing engaging educational games and assessing engagement in game-based learning”, In Gamification in Education: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, IGI Global, Hershey, USA, pp. 1-19.

Harris, J. Mishra, P., and Koehler, M. (2009), “Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed”, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 393-416.

Huang, W.H., Huang, W.Y., and Tschopp, J. (2010), “Sustaining iterative game playing processes in DGBL: The relationship between motivational processing and outcome processing”,  Computers & Education, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 789-97.

Hwang, G.J., and Wu, P.H.  (2012), “Advancements and trends in digital game‐based learning research: a review of publications in selected journals from 2001 to 2010”, British. Journal of Education Technology, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. E6-E10.

Isaias, P., Reis, F., Coutinho, C. and Lencastre, J. A. (2017), “Empathic technologies for distance/mobile learning: An empirical research based on the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT)”, Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 159-180.

Lee, M. K., Cheung, C. M., and Chen, Z. (2005), “Acceptance of Internet-based learning medium: the role of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation”, Information & Management,. Vol. 42, No. 8, pp. 1095-1104.

Li, H., Liu, Y., Xu, X., Heikkilä, J., and Van Der Heijden, H. (2015), “Modeling hedonic is continuance through the uses and gratifications theory: An empirical study in online games”, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 48, pp. 261-272.

Park, S.Y. (2009), “An analysis of the technology acceptance model in understanding university students’ behavioral intention to use e-learning”, Education. Technology & Society, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 150-162.

Park, S. Y., Nam, M. W., and Cha, S. B. (2012), “University students’ behavioral intention to use mobile learning: Evaluating the technology acceptance model”, British Journal of Education Technology, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 592-605.

Rodríguez, A. I., Riaza, B. G., & Gómez, M. C. S. (2017), “Collaborative learning and mobile devices: An educational experience in Primary Education”, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 72, pp. 664-677.

Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L. (2000), “Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions”, Contemporary Education Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 54-67.

Sánchez, I. A., & Isaías, P. (2017), “Proceedings of the International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS)”, International Conference on Mobile Learning (13th, Budapest, Hungary, April 10-12, 2017). International Association for Development of the Information Society.

Sánchez, I. A., & Isaias, P. (2018), “Proceedings of the International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS)”, International Conference on Mobile Learning (14th, Lisbon, Portugal, April 14-16, 2018). International Association for Development of the Information Society.

Teo, T., Beng Lee, C., Sing Chai, C., and Wong, S.L. (2009), “Assessing the intention to use technology among pre-service teachers in Singapore and Malaysia: A multigroup invariance analysis of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)”, Computers & Education, Vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 1000-1009.

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M.G., Davis, G.B. and Davis, F.D. (2003), “User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 425-478.

Venkatesh, V., Thong, Y.T.L., and Xu, X. (2012), “Consumer acceptance and use of information technology: extending the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 36, No.1, pp. 157-178.

Wang, Y. S., Wu, M. C., & Wang, H. Y. (2009), “Investigating the determinants and age and gender differences in the acceptance of mobile learning”, British Journal of Educational technology, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 92-118.

Wouters, P., Van Nimwegen, C., Van Oostendorp, H., and Van Der Spek, E.D. (2013), “A meta-analysis of the cognitive and motivational effects of serious games”,  Journal of Education Psychology,  Vol. 105, No.  2, pp. 249-266.


Related Publications

Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2019). The Acceptance and Use of Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education. In Pfennig, A. & Chen, K.C. (Eds.) 3rd International Conference on Education and eLearning (ICEEL2019), Barcelona, Spain.

Camilleri, A.C. & Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The Students’ Perceived Use, Ease of Use and Enjoyment of Educational Games at Home and at School. 13th Annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference. Valencia, Spain (March, 2019). International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED).Download this paper

Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A. (2017). The Students’ Perceptions of Digital Game-Based Learning. In Pivec, M. & Grundler, J. (Ed.) 11th European Conference on Games Based Learning  (October). Proceedings, pp. 52-62, H JOANNEUM University of Applied Science, Graz, Austria, pp 56-62. http://toc.proceedings.com/36738webtoc.pdf Download this paper

Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A. (2017). Measuring The Educators’ Behavioural Intention, Perceived Use And Ease Of Use Of Mobile Technologies. In Wood, G. (Ed) Re-connecting management research with the disciplines: Shaping the research agenda for the social sciences (University of Warwick, September). Proceedings, pp., British Academy of Management, UK. http://conference.bam.ac.uk/BAM2017/htdocs/conference_papers.php?track_name=%20Knowledge%20and%20Learning Download this paper

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The Students Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games

An Excerpt from one of my latest papers, entitled; “The Students’ Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games”.

How to Cite: Camilleri, A.C. & Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The Students Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea (May, 2019).


This contribution has explored the primary school’s grade three  students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations toward the use of educational games. It relied on the technology acceptance model to investigate the students’ perceived usefulness and ease of use of the  schools’ games ([7], [8], [15]). Moreover, the researchers have also  included the measuring items that explored the students’ perceived  enjoyment ([12], [13], [20]) as they investigated whether they  experienced normative pressures to play the educational games ([14], [22], [23]). The findings from the Wilcoxon test reported that the students played the school games at home, more than they did at school. They indicated that the school’s games were easy to play.

This study reported that the students recognized that the school’s games were useful and relevant as they were learning from them. Moreover, they indicated that the school’s educational games held their attention since they found them enjoyable and fun. The vast majority of the children played the educational games, both at home and at school. The findings in this study are consistent with the argument that digital natives are increasingly immersing
themselves in digital technologies ([2]), including educational games ([1], [4], [10], [11], [28]). However, the results have shown that there was no significant relationship between the perceived ease of the gameplay and the children’s enjoyment in them.

Furthermore, the stepwise regression analysis revealed that there was no significant relationship between the normative expectations and the children’s engagement with the educational games; although it was evident (from the descriptive statistics) that the parents were encouraging their children to play the games at home and at school.

This research relied on previously tried and tested measures that were drawn from the educational technology literature in order to explore the hypothesized relationships. There is common tendency  in academic literature to treat the validity and reliability of quantitative measures from highly cited empirical papers as given. In this case, the survey items in this study were designed and adapted for the primary school children who were in grade 3, in a
small European state. Future studies may use different sampling frames, research designs and methodologies to explore this topic. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other empirical study that has validated the technology acceptance model within a primary school setting. Further work is needed to replicate the findings of  this research in a similar context.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We thank the department of education, the school’s principal and her members of staff who have provided their invaluable support during the data gathering process.

REFERENCES
[1] Ge, X., and Ifenthaler, D. 2018. Designing engaging
educational games and assessing engagement in game-based
learning” In Gamification in Education: Breakthroughs in
Research and Practice, IGI Global, Hershey, USA, 1-19,

[2] Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., and Schellens, T.
2010, Students’ perceptions about the use of educational
games in the classroom. Comp. & Educ. 54, 4, 1145-1156.

[3] Hwang, G.J., and Wu, P.H. 2012. Advancements and trends
in digital game‐based learning research: a review of
publications in selected journals from 2001 to 2010. Brit. J.
of Educ. Tech. 43, 1, E6-E10.

[4] Carvalho, M.B., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., De Gloria, A.,
Sedano, C.I., Hauge, H.B., Hu, J., and Rauterberg, M. 2015.
An activity theory-based model for serious games analysis
and conceptual design. Comp. & Educ. 87, 166-181.

[5] Connolly, T.M., Boyle, E.A., MacArthur, E. Hainey, T., and
Boyle, J.M. 2012. A systematic literature review of empirical
evidence on computer games and serious games. Comp. &
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[6] Burguillo, J.C. 2010. Using game theory and competitionbased
learning to stimulate student motivation and
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[7] Dickey, M.D. 2011. Murder on Grimm Isle: The impact of
game narrative design in an educational game‐based learning
environment. Brit. J. of Educ. Tech, 42, 3, 456-469.

[8] Huang, W.H., Huang, W.Y., and Tschopp, J. 2010.
Sustaining iterative game playing processes in DGBL: The
relationship between motivational processing and outcome
processing. Comp. & Educ. 55, 2, 789-97.

[9] Harris, J. Mishra, P., and Koehler, M. 2009. Teachers’
technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning
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reframed. J. of Res. on Tech. in Educ. 41, 4, 393-416.

[10] Wouters, P., Van Nimwegen, C., Van Oostendorp, H., and
Van Der Spek, E.D. 2013. A meta-analysis of the cognitive
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105, 2, 249-266.

[11] Camilleri, M.A., and Camilleri, A. 2017. The Students’
Perceptions of Digital Game-Based Learning, In Pivec, M.
and Grundler, J. 11th European Conference on Games Based
Learning Proceedings (London, UK, October 04-05, 2017),
University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria, 56-62.

[12] Davis, F.D. 1989. Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of
use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS
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[13] Davis, F.D., Bagozzi, R.P., and Warshaw, P.R. 1989. User
acceptance of computer technology: a comparison of two
theoretical models. Mgt. Science, 35, 8, 982-1003.

[14] Ajzen, I. 1991. The theory of planned behavior. Org. Behav.
and Human Dec. Proc. 50, 2, 179-211.

[15] Lee, M. K., Cheung, C. M., and Chen, Z. 2005. Acceptance
of Internet-based learning medium: the role of extrinsic and
intrinsic motivation. Inf. & Mgt. 42, 8, 1095-1104.

[16] Chen, K. C. and Jang, S. J. 2010. Motivation in online
learning: Testing a model of self-determination theory.
Comp. in Human Behav. 26, 4, 741-752.

[17] Dunne, Á., Lawlor, M. A., and Rowley, J. 2010. Young
people’s use of online social networking sites–a uses and
gratifications perspective. Journal of Res. in Int. Mktg. 4, 1,
46-58.

[18] Li, H., Liu, Y., Xu, X., Heikkilä, J., and Van Der Heijden, H.
2015. Modeling hedonic is continuance through the uses and
gratifications theory: An empirical study in online games.
Comp. in Human Behav. 48, 261-272.

[19] Teo, T., Beng Lee, C., Sing Chai, C., and Wong, S.L. 2009.
Assessing the intention to use technology among pre-service
teachers in Singapore and Malaysia: A multigroup invariance
analysis of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM).
Comp. & Educ. 53, 3, 1000-1009.

[20] Camilleri, M.A., and Camilleri, A.C. 2017. Digital learning
resources and ubiquitous technologies in education, Tech.,
Knowl. and Learng. 22, 1, 65-82.

[21] Park, S.Y. 2009. An analysis of the technology acceptance
model in understanding university students’ behavioral
intention to use e-learning, Educ. Tech. & Soc. 12, 3, 150-
162.

[22] Venkatesh, V., Morris, M.G., Davis, G.B. and Davis, F.D.
2003. User acceptance of information technology: Toward a
unified view. MIS Quart. 425-478.

[23] Venkatesh, V., Thong, Y.T.L., and Xu, X. 2012.Consumer
acceptance and use of information technology: extending the
unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. MIS
Quart. 157-178.

[24] Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L. 2000. Intrinsic and extrinsic
motivations: Classic definitions and new directions.
Contemp. Educ. Psych. 25, 1, 54-67.

[25] Cheon, J., Lee, S., Crooks, S. M. and Song, J. 2012. An
investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher
education based on the theory of planned behavior. Comp. &
Educ. 59, 3, 1054-1064.

[26] Chang, C.T., Hajiyev, J., and Su, C.R. 2017. Examining the
students’ behavioral intention to use e-learning in
Azerbaijan? The general extended technology acceptance
model for e-learning approach. Comp. & Educ. 111, 128-
143.

[27] Park, S. Y., Nam, M. W., and Cha, S. B. 2012. University
students’ behavioral intention to use mobile learning:
Evaluating the technology acceptance model. Brit. Journal of
Educ. Tech. 43, 4, 592-605.

[28] Camilleri, M.A. and Camilleri, A.C. 2017. The Technology
Acceptance of Mobile Applications in Education. In
Sánchez, I.A. and Isaias, P. (Eds) 13th
International Conference on Mobile Learning (London, UK,
10-11 April 2018). International Association for
Development of the Information Society Budapest, Hungary,
41-48.

Presentation is available at: https://www.slideshare.net/markanthonycamilleri/the-students-intrinsic-and-extrinsic-motivations-148006875

 

 

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Social Responsibility Research in Total Quality Management and Business Excellence (Taylor & Francis Online)

 

This is a pre-publication version of an academic paper, entitled; “Measuring the corporate managers’ attitudes toward ISO’s social responsibility standard”, that was accepted by Total Quality Management and Business Excellence (Print ISSN: 1478-3363 Online ISSN: 1478-3371).

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Measuring the corporate managers’ attitudes toward ISO’s social responsibility standard. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence. (forthcoming). http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14783363.2017.1413344


Abstract

The International Standards Organisation’s ISO 26000 on social responsibility supports organisations of all types and sizes in their responsibilities towards society and the environment. ISO 26000 recommends that organisations ought to follow its principles on accountability, transparency, ethical behaviours and fair operating practices that safeguard organisations and their stakeholders’ interests. Hence, this contribution presents a critical review of ISO 26000’s guiding principles. Afterwards, it appraises the business practitioners’ attitudes towards social responsibility practices, including organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues as well as community involvement and development. A principal component analysis has indicated that the executives were primarily committed to resolving grievances and on countering corruption. The results suggested that the respondents believed in social dialogue as they were willing to forge relationships with different stakeholders. Moreover, they were also concerned about environmental responsibility, particularly on mitigating climate change and sustainable consumption. In conclusion, this paper identifies the standard’s inherent limitations as it opens up future research avenues to academia.

Keywords: ISO 26000; International Standards Organisation; Social Responsibility; Organisational Governance; Human Rights; Labour Practices; environmental responsibility; fair operating practices; consumer issues; community involvement.


Introduction

The International Standard Organisation’s ISO 26000 provides guidance on social responsibility issues for businesses and other entities. This standard comprises broad issues, comprising labour practices, conditions of employment, responsible supply chain management, responsible procurement of materials and resources, fair operating practices, recommendations for negotiations with interested parties as well as collaborative stakeholder engagement among other issues (Helms, Oliver, & Webb, 2012; Castka & Balzarova, 2008a, 2008b, 2008c). ISO 26000 is aimed at all organisations, regardless of their activity, size or location. Its core subjects respect the international norms and assist organisations on accountability, transparency and ethical behaviours.

The social responsibility standard has emerged following lengthy partnerships’ agreements and negotiations between nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and large multinational corporations (Helms et al., 2012; Boström & Halström, 2010; Castka & Balzarova, 2008a, 2008b, 2008c). Prior to ISO 26000, there were other certifiable and uncertifiable, multistakeholder standards and instruments; the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Greenpeace, Rainforest Alliance and Home Depot, among others (Balzarova & Castka, 2012; Castka & Corbett, 2016a). At the time, many organisations adopted voluntary environmental and social standards, as well as eco-labels such as ISO’s 14000, FSC, Fair Trade or the US Department of Agriculture’s USDA Organic Labelling. Like ISO 26000, their regulatory guidelines and principles encourage organisations and their stakeholders to become more socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. However, despite there are many standards and regulatory instruments, private businesses do not always provide credible information on their eco-labelling (Darnall, Ji, & Vazquez-Brust, 2016).

For this reason, environmental NGOs are putting pressure on national governments for more stringent compliance regulations on large undertakings to adhere to certified standards or ecolabels (Schwartz & Tilling, 2009). This approach could possibly inhibit the businesses and other organisations to reveal relevant information about their social responsibility and stakeholder engagement (Castka & Corbett, 2016b). Notwithstanding, there is still limited research and scant empirical evidence on how businesses are resorting to ISO 26000’s principles in their responsible managerial practices (see Hahn, 2013; Hahn & Weidtmann, 2016; Claasen & Roloff, 2012; Castka & Balzarova, 2008a, 2008b)Therefore, this contribution provides a review of the socially responsible standard’s guiding principles and appraises the executives’ attitudes towards ISO 26000. Firstly, it examines relevant theoretical insights and empirical studies on the managerial perceptions towards responsible organisational behaviours. Secondly, it sheds light on the development of ISO’s standard on social responsibility and its constituent elements. Thirdly, this paper reveals the managers’ perceptions of ISO 26000’s core topics, including organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues as well as community involvement and development. This research uses a principal component analysis (PCA) to obtain a factor solution of a smaller set of salient variables from ISO 26000’s core issues. The findings identify specific socially responsible activities which are being emphasised by the companies’ executives. The results suggest that the respondents were committed to improving their relationships with employees, marketplace as well as political and community stakeholders.

Literature review

The managerial perceptions of social responsibility

Several empirical studies have explored the managers’ attitudes towards and perceptions of corporate social responsibilities (Carollo & Guerci, 2017; Eweje & Sakaki, 2015; Moyeen & West, 2014; Fassin, Van Rossem, & Buelens, 2011; Pedersen, 2010; Basu & Palazzo, 2008; Nielsen & Thomsen, 2009 and Perrini, Russo, & Tencati, 2007, among others). A number of similar studies have gauged corporate social responsibility by adopting Fortune’s reputation index (Fryxell & Wang, 1994; Griffin & Mahon, 1997; Stanwick & Stanwick, 1998), the KLD index (Fombrun, 1998; Griffin & Mahon, 1997) or Van Riel and Fombrun’s (2007) RepTrak. Such measures required executives to assess the extent to which their company behaves responsibly towards the environment and the community (Fryxell & Wang, 1994). Despite their wide usage in past research, the appropriateness of these indices is still doubtful. For instance, Fortune’s reputation index failed to account for the multidimensionality of the corporate citizenship construct, and is suspected to be more significant of management quality than of corporate social performance (Waddock & Graves, 1997). Fortune’s past index suffered from the fact that its items were not based on theoretical arguments, as they did not appropriately represent the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary dimensions of the corporate citizenship construct.

Other academics, including Pedersen (2010), identified a set of common issues that were frequently used by managers when describing societal responsibilities. This study reported that managers still had a relatively narrow perception of societal responsibilities. Generally, they believed that CSR involves taking care of the workforce, and to manufacture products and deliver services that the customers want, in an eco-friendly manner. The managers who participated in Pedersen’s (2010) study did not believe that they had responsibilities towards society on issues such as social exclusion, Third World development and poverty reduction, among other variables. In a similar vein, Eweje and Sakaki (2015) pointed out that corporate social responsibility involved volunteering, diversity in the workplace and work–life balance. They contended that these are important areas that merit more attention, particularly for those businesses that are willing to prove their credentials. Moreover, Moyeen and West (2014) noticed that sustainable development and environmental issues often remained on the periphery of the managers’ understandings and perceptions of CSR

ISO’s social responsibility standard

In 2010, the development of ISO 26000 has represented a significant milestone in integrating socially and environmentally responsible behaviours into management processes (Toppinen, Virtanen, Mayer, & Tuppura, 2015; Hahn, 2013). ISO 26000 was developed through a participatory multi-stakeholder process with an emphasis on participatory decision-making and

democracy (Hahn & Weidtmann, 2016). For instance, the International Labour Organization (ILO) had established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure that ISO’s social responsibility standard is consistent with its very own labour standards. In fact, ISO 26000’s core subject on ‘Labour Practices’ is based on ILOs’ conventions on labour practices, including

Human Resources Development Convention, Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, Forced Labour Convention, Freedom of Association, Minimum Wage Fixing Recommendation and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Recommendation, among others. Moreover, ISO’s core subject on ‘human rights’ is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948).

The standard comprises seven essential areas in the realms of social responsibility: organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development (ISO, 2014). ISO’s goal is to encourage organisations to integrate their guiding principles on social responsibility into their management strategies, systems and processes. Therefore, ISO 26000 assists in improving environmental, social and governance communications and also provides guidance on stakeholder identification and engagement (Camilleri, 2015a). It advises the practising organisations to take into account their varied stakeholders’ interests. According to Castka and Balzarova (2008a, p. 276), ‘ISO 26000 aims to assist organisations and their networks in addressing their social responsibilities as it provides practical guidance on how to operationalise CSR, by identifying and engaging with stakeholders and enhancing credibility of reports and claims made about CSR (Hąbek & Wolniak, 2016). Therefore, this standard has the potential to capture the context-specific nature of social responsibility.

ISO 26000 has been characterised as an evolutionary step in standard innovation because it is suitable for organisations of all sizes and sectors. This standard has unique features regarding authority and legitimacy (Hahn, 2013). Its guidelines describe social responsibility as ‘the actions a firm takes to contribute to “sustainable development”’ (Perez-Baltres, Doh, Miller, & Pisani, 2012, p. 158). Hahn (2013) suggested that ISO 26000 offers specific guidance on many facets of CSR, as it helps responsible businesses in their internal and external assessments and evaluations. Furthermore, when the organisations adopt ISO 26000, they could signal their social responsibility credentials and qualities to their marketplace stakeholders (Graffin & Ward, 2010). This way they may also reduce information asymmetries among supply chain partners (King, Lenox, & Terlaak, 2005).

ISO 26000 provides a unilateral understanding of social responsibility across the globe. It acknowledges that ‘social responsibility should be an integral part of the businesses’ core strategy (ISO, 2014). A wide array of social responsibility practices and stakeholder management issues are addressed in ISO 26000. This standard aims to unify and standardise social responsibility; it also acknowledges that each organisation has a responsibility to bear that are relevant to its business (Hąbek & Wolniak, 2016; Hahn, 2013). Notwithstanding, there are different industries, organisational settings, regional or cultural circumstances that will surely affect how entities implement the ISO standards ‘recommendations on responsible behaviours’.

The corporate culture is an important driver for socially responsible activities. Therefore, CEOs play a key role in giving their face and voice to their corporate sustainability agenda (Waldman et al., 2006; Caprar & Neville, 2012). Hence, ISO 26000 can be used as a vehicle for CSR communication. Hąbek and Wolniak (2016) suggested that this standard is rooted in a quality management framework, as it holds potential to enhance the credibility of the corporations’ social responsibility claims. Similarly, Moratis (2015) argued that the concept of credibility relates to scepticism, trust and greenwashing. Other research has demonstrated that some stakeholders have used standards to enhance their credibility, learning and legitimacy (Hąbek & Wolniak, 2016; Boström & Halström, 2010). Consequently, the organisations that are renowned for their genuine CSR credentials could garner a better reputation and image among stakeholders. This will ultimately result in significant improvements to the firms’ bottom lines. An organisational culture that promotes the sustainability agenda has the potential to achieve a competitive advantage, as businesses could improve their long-term corporate financial performance (Eccles, Ioannou, & Serafeim, 2012) via the development of valuable, rare and non-imitable organisational resources and capabilities (Barney, 1986). Eccles et al. (2012) analysed the financial performance of firms with either high or low sustainability orientation. The authors found that firms with a high sustainability orientation were associated with distinct governance mechanisms for sustainability, longer time horizons and deeper stakeholder engagement, as they dedicated more attention to non-financial disclosures. Their adoption of the sustainability standards, such as ISO 26000, can also be interpreted as a signal of a responsible corporate culture (Waldman et al., 2006).

On the other hand, many academic commentators argue that ISO 26000 has never been considered as a management standard. The certification requirements have not been incorporated into ISO 26000’s development and reinforcement process, unlike other standards, including ISO 9000 and ISO 14001(Hahn, 2013). In its present form, ISO 26000 does not follow a classical plan–do–check–act–type management system approach as it is the case for ISO 14001 (Hahn, 2013). Arimura, Darnall, and Katayama (2011) reported that the facilities that were certified with ISO’s 14000 were 40% more likely to assess their suppliers’ environmental performance and 50% more likely to require that their suppliers undertake specific environmental practices. Nevertheless, Arimura, Darnall, Ganguli, and Katayama (2016) argued that although ISO 14001 was a certifiable standard, the facilities that were adopting it were no more likely to reduce their air pollution emissions than noncertified ones.

Rasche and Kell (2010) admitted that the responsibility standards can never be a complete solution to the perennial social and environmental problems; they argued that the standards have inherent limitations that need to be recognised. Certain prestandardisation preparations may have created boundaries which have restricted the stakeholders’ influence. Suchman (1995) described the pre-standardisation phase as an effort which embedded new structures and practices into already legitimate institutions. During the pre-standardisation discussions among stakeholders, there were differing opinions and not enough consensus over ISO 26000’s certification (Mueckenberger & Jastram, 2010). Other authors declared that the certification of standards does not necessarily lead to improved performance (Aravind & Christmann, 2011; King et al., 2005). The development of ISO 26000 involved lengthy, multi-stakeholder corroborations that did not necessarily ensure legitimacy or guarantee that the standard could be considered as an enforceable instrument for industry participants. Balzarova and Castka (2012) also pointed out that the scope of the ISO 26000 standard was unclear as the actual implications for social and environmental improvement were still unknown. Many stakeholders, including chief executives, should have been in a position to leverage their arguments during the pre-standardisation arrangements (Balzarova & Castka, 2012). The responsible businesses could have discussed possible avenues for the standard’s reinforcement. For instance, those organisations that are in complete compliance with ISO 26000 are not required to disclose their social responsibility reports and to make them readily accessible to stakeholders (Balzarova & Castka, 2012). This contentious issue could lead organisations to not fully conform themselves to this uncertifiable standard.

Different industry representatives were (and are still) concerned that costly certification requirements could overburden organisations, particularly in emerging economies. The organisations’ stakeholders, including their employees, may be against the introduction of new standards as they could affect their firms’ bottom lines. When the standards are enforced, industry stakeholders need to comply with their requirements. The companies will usually have to absorb the cost of compliance with the standards (Delmas, 2002). Moreover, the standards may also lead to the creation of trade barriers and to significant increases in production costs (Montabon, Melnyk, Sroufe, & Calantone, 2000). Notwithstanding, when introducing new standards, the standard setters’ external audits could reveal regulatory non-compliance among adopting organisations (Schwartz & Tilling, 2009; Delmas, 2002). As a result, the industries’ implementation of a new standard such as ISO 26000 could be time-consuming because it may require holistic adaptations to change extant organisational processes. The standardisation of social responsibility has also been criticised for being costly and thereby difficult to implement, especially among the smaller companies (Toppinen et al., 2015).

Ávila et al.’s (2013) survey indicated that ISO 26000’s themes were under-represented, particularly those involving labour practices and the environment. The authors posited that the organisations that were supposedly following ISO 26000 have often faced difficulties in incorporating the social responsibility throughout all organisational mechanisms, processes and decisions. Ávila et al. (2013) argued that the businesses’ unsatisfactory engagement with consumer issues was even more serious, as they justify the organisations’ existence. It may appear that Ávila et al.’s (2013) research participants were only concerned about their corporate image (as they were supposedly implementing the social responsibility concept and its premises). Evidently, these firms were less interested in undertaking necessary actions to ensure truthful and fair compliance with ISO 26000.

Methodology

This research has explored the senior executives’ stance on ISO’s social responsibility standard. The respondents were all employed by listed companies in a small European member country. They were expected to indicate their attitudes towards and perceptions of ISO 26000’s core topics, including organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues as well as community involvement and development. The questionnaire’s design, layout and content were consistent with the social responsibility standard. Respondents were asked to indicate the strength of their agreement or disagreement with ISO 26000’s subjects. The survey instrument made use of the five-point Likert scaling mechanism, where a numerical value was attributed to the informant’s opinion and perception. The responses were coded from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) with 3 signalling indecision. Such symmetric, equidistant scaling has provided an interval level of measurement.

An online questionnaire link was sent electronically by means of an email, directly to the senior executives of all companies that were listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. There were numerous attempts to ensure that the questionnaire has been received by all email recipients. Many steps were taken to ensure a high response rate, which included reminder emails and numerous telephone calls. Eventually, there was a total of 374 (out of 1626) respondents who have willingly chosen to take part in this research. This sample represented a usable response rate of 23% of all targeted research participants. The surveyed respondents gave their socio-demographic details about their ‘role’, ‘age’, ‘gender’ and ‘education’ in the latter part of the survey questionnaire. The objective of this designated profile of owner-managers was to gain a good insight into their ability to make evaluative judgements in taking strategic decisions on social responsibility matters. Table 1 presents the profile of respondents who participated in this study.

 

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Following the data gathering process, the researcher carried out descriptive statistics to analyse the distribution and dispersion of the data. Afterwards, factor analysis (FA) data reduction techniques were used to achieve the desired reliability, timely and accurate assessment of the findings. Unless an instrument is reliable, it cannot be valid. The FA was developed to explore and discover the main construct or dimension in the data matrix. The primary objective of this analysis was to reduce the number of variables in the data-set and to detect any underlying structure between them (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998). Therefore, FA identified the interrelationships among variables. FA extracted components to obtain a factor solution of a smaller set of salient variables which exhibited the highest variation from the linear combination of original variables (Hair et al., 1998). It then removed this variance and produced a second linear combination which explained the maximum proportion of the remaining variance. The first step was to decide which factor components were going to be retained in the PCA. This approach was considered appropriate as there were variables that shared close similarities and highly significant correlations. The criterion for retaining factors is that each retained component must have some sort of face validity and/or theoretical validity, but prior to the rotation process, it was impossible to interpret what each factor meant. The first component accounted for a fairly large amount of the total variance. Each succeeding component had smaller amounts of variance. Although a large number of components could be extracted, only the first few components will be important enough to be retained for interpretation.

The SPSS default was set to keep any factor with an eigenvalue larger than 1.0. If a factor component displayed an eigenvalue less than 1.0, it would have explained less variance than the original variable. Once the factors have been chosen, the next step was to rotate them. The goal of rotation was to achieve what is called a ‘simple structure’, with high factor loadings on one factor and low loadings on all others. The factor loading refers to the correlation between each retained factor and each of the original variables. With regard to determining the significance of the factor loading, this study had followed the guidelines for identifying significant factor loadings based on the specific sample size, as suggested by Hair et al. (1998).

Analysis

The survey questionnaires’ responses were imported directly into SPSS. After filtering responses and eliminating unusable or incomplete survey observations, a total of 374 valid responses were obtained. The managers of the listed companies were required to indicate their level of agreement with ISO 26000 core subjects. Reliability and appropriate validity tests have been carried out during the analytical process. Cronbach’s alpha was calculated to test for the level of consistency among the items.

Principal component analysis

Bartlett’s test of sphericity revealed sufficient correlation in the data-set to run a PCA since P< .001. The Kaiser–Meyer– Olkin’s Test (which measures the sampling adequacy) was also acceptable, as it was well above 0.5. With respect to scale reliability, all constructs were analysed for internal consistency by using Cronbach’s alpha. The composite reliability coefficient (Bagozzi & Yi, 1988) was 0.79, well above the minimum acceptance value of 0.7.

PCA has been chosen to obtain a factor solution of a smaller set of salient variables, from a much larger data-set. A varimax rotation method was used to spread variability more evenly among the constructs. PCA was considered appropriate as there were variables exhibiting an underlying structure. Many variables shared close similarities as there were highly significant correlations. Therefore, PCA has identified the patterns within the data and expressed it by highlighting the relevant similarities (and differences) in each and every component. In the process, the data have been compressed as it was reduced in a number of dimensions without much loss of information. From SPSS, the PCA has produced a table which illustrated the amount of variance in the original variables (with their respective initial eigenvalues), which were accounted for every component. There was also a percentage of variance column which indicated the expressed ratio, as a percentage of the variance (for each component). A brief description of the extracted factor components, together with their eigenvalues and their respective percentage of variance, is provided in Table 2 . The sum of the eigenvalues equalled the number of components. Only principal components with eigenvalues greater than 1 were extracted, and they accounted for more than 63% variance before rotation. The PCA analysis yielded 17 extracted components from ISO 26000’s 37 variables. These factor components were labelled following a cross-examination of the variables with the higher loadings. Typically, the variables with the highest correlation scores had mostly contributed towards the make-up of the respective component.

total variance

Discussion and conclusions

Many stakeholders, particularly the regulatory ones, from the most advanced economies are increasingly inquiring about the corporations’ responsible behaviours. Very often, multinational businesses are resorting to the NGOs’ tools and instruments, such as process and performance-oriented standards in corporate governance, human rights, labour, environmental

protection, anti-corruption as well as health and safety, among others (Camilleri, 2015a). In this light, ISO 26000 standard has been chosen to investigate company executives’ stance towards social responsibility practices.

This empirical research suggests that the respondents’ responsible and sustainable behaviours were both internally and externally focused. The managers indicated that they were paying attention to their human rights issues, labour and fair operating practices. Table 2 reported that the executives gave due importance to resolving grievances and anti-corruption within their organisation. This finding is consistent with other contributions which link CSR with the human resources management literature (Currie, Gormley, Roche, & Teague, 2016; Hahn, 2013; Wettstein, 2012; Pedersen, 2010; Ewing, 1989). The workplace conflict may be intrinsic to the nature of work, because employees and managers may have hard-to-reconcile competing interests (Currie et al., 2016). Ewing (1989) argued that companies develop grievance procedures to help them in their due processes. The author maintained that its development leads to better morale and productivity, fewer union interventions and less likelihood of being sued. However, grievance procedures could incur operating costs, often consume large amounts of previous time from executives and may open the door to chronic malcontents.

This study evidenced that the corporations’ managers were clearly against corrupt practices. Today’s listed businesses are increasingly expected to explain how they are fighting fraudulent activities and bribery issues. This study was conducted in a European Union jurisdiction which mandates a ‘comply or explain’ directive on non-financial reporting (Camilleri, 2015b). The European corporations are expected to be as transparent as possible, to disclose material information and to limit the pursuit of exploitative, unfair or deceptive practices (Camilleri, 2015b). Moreover, large organisations that are operating in member states (that have ratified the ILO’s conventions on labour rights) are morally and legally bound to promote fair operating practices and to engage in social dialogue. The findings suggest that the respondents were committed to forging relationships with different stakeholders, including suppliers and market intermediaries, the wider communities at large, as well as political groups, among others. Porter and Kramer (2011) contended that capable local suppliers foster greater logistical efficiency and ease of collaboration in areas, such as training, in order to boost productivity. Therefore, the success of every company is affected by supporting stakeholders and the extant infrastructure around it. The big businesses’ stakeholder engagement is rooted in institutional theory, as they are capable of aligning themselves with their broader context (Brammer, Jackson, & Matten, 2012). In fact, this study has also measured the respondents’ attitudes on social engagement (including the creation of jobs and skills development, the conditions of employment and the individuals’ civil and political rights) and on the subject of discrimination towards vulnerable groups, among other contingent topics. Moreover, the listed companies’ executives also indicated that they were concerned on environmental sustainability, particularly on global climate change. The corporations’ managers did not explain how they were committed to reduce the carbon footprint or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases. However, they may use new technologies, including renewable energy, water use and conservation. Alternatively, they could change older equipment to reduce pollution and make it more efficient and economical. The results suggest that respondents respected property rights, they utilised and consumed sustainable resources, and were concerned on protecting the natural environment.

Limitations and suggestions for future research

The extant literature has recognised this ISO 26000’s inherent limitations. For the time being, the businesses that are using this standard are not required to disclose material information on their social responsibility practices to stakeholders. One of the most contentious issues is that ISO 26000 still remains voluntary and uncertifiable. The practitioners may ultimately decide not to fully conform themselves with this standard, as they are not bound to do so. For this reason, ISO 26000’s role is still limited for regulators, standard-setting organisations and policy-makers.

In a nutshell, this paper has advanced an empirical study that explored the business executives’ appraisal of social responsibility practices. It has employed ISO 26000 as a comprehensive measure for organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development. Moreover, this contribution has critically analysed key theoretical underpinnings and previous empirical studies on the social responsibility standard. Further research may yield other conclusions about how responsible organisations and corporations could use this standard to appraise their social responsibility endeavours. Future studies could explore different stakeholders’ views, other than the corporation executives’ stance on ISO 26000 subjects. Academia could utilise ISO’s broad standard as a measure for social responsibility behaviours. Moreover, qualitative research could clarify in depth and breadth how organisations are mapping their progress and advancement in the implementation and monitoring of the standard’s responsible initiatives. Future research could identify certain difficulties in incorporating the social responsibility standard throughout the organisational systems and processes.

Acknowledgements

The author thanks this journal’s editor and his anonymous reviewers for their insightful remarks and suggestions.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

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