Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: The Case of Palestinian Food Manufacturing Sector
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are considered hot trends in today’s modern trade system. Most multinational corporations have adapted their strategies by embedding CSR and sustainability standards and policies (Mani et al., 2018). The linkages between CSR and sustainability applications have never been explored for the Palestinian food manufacturing sector; this research explores these linkages and their impact on corporate performance. This research aims to identify the barriers, obstacles, and drivers for sustainable practices in the Palestinian food manufacturing sector. This research will also investigate the impact of sustainability and CSR factors (commitment and motivators) and how they affect each other to identify the best practices for CSR and sustainability applications. The current study employs a sequential mixed methodology approach for data collection using qualitative and quantitative data collection tools. Quantitative data are collected using surveys while the qualitative data are collected through interviews with corporate seniors in the Palestinian food manufacturing sector. The collected quantitative data are analyzed using Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modeling and Kruskal-Wallis, while the qualitative data are analyzed using the thematic analysis method. The qualitative data analysis is used to discuss and interpret the outcomes of the quantitative analysis. The results of this research indicate that CSR and sustainability are being applied within the Palestinian corporate food manufacturing sector in their most basic functions and this application is manifested through the improvement of supply chain processes and cost reduction. CSR is being applied in many forms through financial assistance provided in the form of charity work for the community, attaining labor rights and abiding by some SA8000 standards. Some corporations already have CSR certificates such as ISO26000 and SA8000 and are being audited by them. There are strong linkages between CSR factors (commitment and motivators) and sustainability factors (commitment and motivators). The CSR commitment factor has the strongest relations with other factors, which indicates that corporate commitment to CSR could affect the level of corporate sustainability application. Moreover, sustainability’s environmental pillar is the least of the concerns of corporations who are paying more attention towards their manufacturing materials and machinery and other supply chain processes. The demographical specifications also present strong relations on CSR and sustainability applications. Many challenges are hindering the applications of CSR and sustainability in Palestine such as the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the lack of governmental support and corporate financial limitations. This research resulted in the development of a framework that introduces the best practices for corporations willing to apply CSR and sustainability standards in the Palestinian food manufacturing sector. The main conclusion of this research is that there is a strong relationship between CSR and sustainability. This relationship is affected by many factors such as the demographics of the stakeholders, community awareness, the dynamics of the Palestinian market, and the Israeli occupation actions and its control over borders and transportation roads; all these factors affect the level of corporate attention and application of sustainability and CSR. The value of this research is the assessment and exploration the best practices of CSR and sustainability applications in the Palestinian food manufacturing sector, in addition to establishing linkages and connections between CSR and sustainability factors and the methods of generalizing and improving these best practices.