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N221 Business Management : Specific Problem is Based on Primary

Primark is a subsidiary company of the ABF (Associated British Foods) Group. The company was launched in 1969 in Ireland trading as Penny's. By 2000, there were over 100 stores across Britain and Ireland. By 2012 Primark had 238 branches across the UK, Ireland and Europe. Primark has become distinctive for offering unbeatable value whilst never losing its innovative, fashion-driven fashion businesses. It does not manufacture goods itself, but expertise lies in understanding its customers and working with its suppliers to produce goods to Primark’s specification. It then gets the right goods to the right places at the right prices. Its profitability depends on sheer volume of sales driven by its value-for-money prices that relies on low costs achieved through economies of scale and efficient distribution.

Primark’s products are mainly sourced from suppliers in Europe and Asia. Its key sourcing countries are China, India, Bangladesh and Turkey. Putting the manufacturing of garments into these countries creates jobs. These are often at better rates of pay than other types of work on offer, improving overall standards of living. In recent years particularly in the last five years, there has been series of public debates and discussions accusing the business of not paying adequate attention to the Corporate Social Responsibilities aspect of its business activities.  Most recent accusation was that of the plight and the working conditions of those working with the company’s main suppliers from China, Indian and Bangladesh to mention a few. For an organisation with such a global brand and image, this is not the kind of publicity you would like.

In a bid to resolving this issue once and for all and to complement the existing CSR practices already in place, the company has asked you to carrry out a research and explore the significance of implementing CSR activities within Primark in achieving sustainable objectives.

Answer:

Introduction:

The research proposal tries to investigate the significance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities within Primark on the achievement of sustainable objectives. The CSR activities of a company help in creating a good image of its brand in the minds of the customers. This proposal has  attempted to analyze the concept of corporate social responsibility and its impact on the achieving sustainable objectives. Corporate social responsibility is comprised of various components. As stated by Clapp & Rowlands (2014), Corporate social responsibility comprises of community involvement, human rights, labor security, environmental protection, business standards, education development and leadership development. The corporate social responsibility activities involve maximizing the welfare of the society and providing good working environment to the employees. The companies are also required to ensure that their activities do not harm the environment as per their CSR activity. Therefore, this research proposal attempts to analyze the particular topic. However, the analysis of this specific problem is based on Primark. Primark is a very reputed company in UK and Ireland.

Primark is a subsidiary company of the Associated British Food (ABF) Group. The company was established in the year 1969 in Ireland and it specializes in apparels for men, women and children and its product range also includes footwear, accessories, confectionary and beauty products. The company is famous for selling clothes at a lower cost than the prevailing market prices. The company contributes to the fashion trends by providing low priced trendy clothes. The company does not manufacture on its own instead, the company works with its suppliers to produce the products after understanding the requirements of the customers ("Primark - Homepage", 2017).

Primark has more than 238 branches across Europe, UK and Ireland. The major suppliers of the company are located in Asia and Europe. The major suppliers of the company are from India, China, Turkey and Bangladesh. Primark had joined the Ethical Trading Initiative in order to bring together the businesses, NGO’s and trade unions to solve the labor right issues in the supply chain of the company. The company has tried to fulfill its sustainable objectives however, various allegations were put on the company that it did not attempt to follow its corporate social responsibility (Dach & Allmendinger, 2014).

  • Aim of the research:

The main o


bjective of the research is to analyze the impact of Corporate social responsibility activities on the achievement of sustainable objectives.

  • Research objectives:

The objectives of the research are as follows:

  • To analyze the main components of corporate social responsibility
  • To analyze the major factors that influence the activities related to the corporate social responsibility
  • To investigate the impact of the components of corporate social responsibility on the brand image of Primark
  • To recommend certain useful methods and techniques for ensuring effective corporate social responsibility of the company that shall help the company in achieving its sustainable objectives.
  •  
    • Research questions:

The following are the questions related to the research:

  • What are the major components of corporate social responsibility that helps a company in achieving its sustainable objectives?
  • What are the major factors that influence the CSR activities of a company?
  • How many employees or workers are satisfied with the existing CSR activities of the company?
  • What are the efficient methods and techniques that shall ensure implementation of effective corporate social responsibility of the company and shall help the company in achieving its sustainable objectives?

Literature review:

The various types of relevant theories and concepts that have a relation with the particular research topic is discussed in the literature review.

Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility:

According to Carroll (2015), CSR is an approach that the businesses apply in order to make contribution to the sustainable development. The companies try to deliver economic, social and environmental advantages and benefits to all the stakeholders of the company by their CSR activities. CSR is the responsibility of the companies that the decisions taken by the company have positive impact on the society and the environment. This involves ethical behavior of the companies such as disclosure of authentic information related to the non-financial activities of the company and maintaining a responsible supply chain management.

According to Salib et al., (2015), the growth of CSR has helped in the realization of the responsibility of the companies towards their stakeholders. The European Union defines corporate social responsibility as a concept in which the organizations integrate the various concerns related to the social and the environmental aspects in their day to day business operations and the interaction of the organizations with the stakeholder groups. According to McWilliams (2014), the question that aroused earlier that whether the organizations must concentrate on doing good by implementing the CSR activities or should they concentrate on the wealth creation does not hold any more importance as the major focus nowadays is how good the organizations do. Nowadays, companies perform their CSR activities by providing donations to some charitable organizations or by implementing various purchase and supply policies that are environment friendly.

However, Korschun, Bhattacharya & Swain (2014) stated that the issue nowadays is that the companies try to showcase themselves as socially responsible organizations by providing donations to some charitable organizations instead of focusing on the critical issues such as involvement of the community and treatment of the workers or employees. According to Fernandez-Feijoo, Romero & Ruiz (2014), corporate social responsibility is the mutual relationship of businesses with environment and the society. CSR is the long-term commitment of the organizations that the businesses shall behave in an ethical manner and shall aid in the development of the economy along with the improvement in the standard of living of the workers or employees, their families and the standard of living of the local communities. The CSR activities of the companies include those activities that help in bringing visible and long lasting benefits to both the companies and the society.

According to Hopkins (2016), it is the corporate social responsibility of the companies to ensure that impacts of their goods and services are positive and benefit the community as a whole. In most of the cases, the business practices affect the dignity and rights of the communities as well as the employees. Therefore, it becomes the corporate responsibility of the companies to provide good working conditions to the employees without any discrimination on any grounds. It is also the social responsibility of the companies to ensure the security of the labors by providing freedom of association and enforcing abolition of all kinds of forced labor and child labor. The corporate social responsibility of the companies also include laying emphasis on finding various sustainable solutions for the natural resources and reducing the adverse impact of the activities of the company on the environment. Nowadays, more emphasis is laid on sustainable development of businesses that the company’s compliance with the government regulations. Even the business standards now include not only financial returns but also ethics and environmental protection norms.

According to Moon (2014), education is the major factor of sustainable development and it is the social responsibility of the companies to contribute a portion of their profits for providing quality education for the overall development of the society. Therefore, CSR is not just forcing the companies to do what is socially acceptable but CSR is going beyond the legal and social laws in order to minimize the harms towards the environment and maximizing the benefits to the various stakeholders. Stakeholders are those individuals or groups of individuals who are affected by the achievement or non-achievement of the goals of the organization. The stakeholders not only include shareholders, employees and customers but also include communities, environmental groups, social groups and public interest groups (Moon, 2017).                        

2.2. Elements of corporate social responsibility:

Figure 1: Elements of corporate social responsibility (Source: Author’s work)

The corporate social responsibilities of the companies revolve around five major components namely employees, customers, suppliers, environment and communities.

  • Employees: It is the CSR of the companies to maintain proper working conditions for its employees considering all the health and safety concerns. The companies must provide healthy atmosphere in the working place so that the employees feel satisfied with their work. It is the responsibility of the companies to ensure that the workplace is safe, healthy and hygienic so that it has no negative impact on the health of the employees working in the company (Pedersen & Gwozdz, 2014).
  • Suppliers: It is the social responsibility of the companies to maintain good relations with their suppliers and must maintain truthfulness in the dealings with the suppliers. The company must provide fair price to the suppliers and must strive to make them a part of the process of planning. The companies must refrain from any kind of coercion with the suppliers. Lastly, the companies must be ethically responsible while selecting the suppliers who follow fair trade practices (Pigors & Rockenbach, 2016).
  • Environment: It is the social responsibility of the companies to ensure that the business processes do not pose any harm to the environment. The companies must sustainably utilize the resources such that it does not create imbalance in nature. It is the responsibility of the companies to minimize the pollution caused by its business processes and must take initiative in improving the environment (Perry, Fernie & woods, 2014).
  • Customers: It is the corporate social responsibility of the companies to provide good quality products and services to the customers at fair prices. It is also the responsibility of the companies to provide good after sales services to the customers when required. The major objective of the companies should be to gain customer satisfaction. The companies must also lay emphasis upon the needs and wants of the customers rather than focusing on mere profits.
  • Communities: It is the social responsibility of the companies to consider the impacts of its business activities on the community as a whole. The activities of the companies must be directed towards development of the community. Community development refers to empowering the individuals with the necessary skills. It is the responsibility of the companies to ensure that the benefits of industrialization is shared among all individuals in the community (Aula & Heinonen, 2016).    

 2.3. Theories of corporate social responsibility:

There are several theories pertaining to corporate social responsibility. The following table shows the various theories related to corporate social responsibility:

Theory

Approaches

Description

Instrumental theories

(focuses on achievement of economic objectives with the help of social activities)

Strategies related to competitive advantage

Maximization of the shareholder value

Long  term maximization of values

Social investment

Firm’s consideration on the dynamic capabilities of the natural resources

Political theories

(focuses on responsible utilization of business power)

Corporate citizenship

Corporate constitutionalism

 Integrative social contract

 

Social power of firms give rise to firm’s social responsibilities

Existence of close relation between business and society

Firms are considered as citizens that have certain involvement in the community

Integrative theories

 

Management issues

Stakeholder management

Corporate social performance

Public responsibility (Harjoto, Laksmana & Lee, 2015).

Corporate response to issues including political and social problems

 Law is taken as a reference for social performance

Balances the interests of the stakeholders of the firm

Searches for related social legitimacy in order to provide proper response to the various social issues

Ethical theories

(focuses on achievement of a good society through right actions)

Sustainable development

Universal rights

Common good

Normative theory of stakeholders

Based on human and labor rights and respect for the nature

Aims at development of humans

Aims at common good in the society (Farooq et al., 2014)

Considers various moral theories in fulfilling duties towards the stakeholders

Figure 2: Theories and approaches of corporate social responsibility (Source: Farooq et al., 2014)

  • Research methodology:

Research methodology involves dealing with the different types and various methods of research. According to Mackey & Gass (2015), research methodology is a process that is useful in conducting the entire process of research in a systematic manner. The research methodology helps in understanding the various techniques pertaining to research process. Therefore, research methodology can be explained as a organized process of conducting research.

  • Types of investigations:

  There are various types of study of research. The major types are exploratory research, descriptive research and hypothesis testing research. According to Creswell (2013), when the researcher does not have a clear idea about the relevant topic of research then it is known as exploratory research. In this type of research, certain scientific viewpoints are considered by the researcher while conducting the entire process of research.

On the other hand, Nassaji (2015) stated that the descriptive form of research study assists in linking the given topic of research with the various relevant models and concepts. Therefore, in the descriptive form of research study, the study is conducted with the help of several relevant theories and models.

Lastly, in the hypothesis testing research, the researcher is required to fix the hypothesis initially after which the researcher analyzes the theories with respect to the relevant concepts and models.

Therefore, descriptive form of research study shall be used by the researcher in order to analyze the given topic.

  • Data collection method:

Figure 3: Data collection methods (Source: Author’s work)

A research process involves use of several data. Therefore, both primary and secondary data in involved in the process of research. Primary data is the one that is collected from various interviews, surveys and questionnaires. Primary data is the one that is collected directly from the various respondents of the research.

On the other hand, secondary data is the data that is extracted from various books, journals and websites. The researcher gets to know about the relevant concepts relating to the topic with the help of secondary data. In order to obtain better results, the researcher is required to collect both primary and secondary data.

In this research study, the researcher shall collect primary data from the workers of the suppliers of Primark. The researcher shall send the postal questionnaires to the workers of the suppliers of Primark in India, Bangladesh and China. Primary data shall help the researcher in knowing the satisfaction levels of the workers and the various issues they face because several allegations were put on the company related to the poor working condition of the workers in the factories of its suppliers. Therefore, primary data shall help in knowing the fact behind these allegations. The secondary data in the form of previous CSR reports of the company shall also be utilized in evaluating the corporate social responsibility of the company. Therefore, the researcher is required to quantify the actual conditions in the workplace of the suppliers of  the company. Therefore, primary data shall be obtained by the researcher in order to analyze the situation.     

3.2. Sampling method

Figure 4: Sampling method (Source: Author’s work)

As stated by Thompson (2013), the research process comprises of two types of sampling methods that are probability and non-probability sampling. These are very efficient in order to choose a sample for the purpose of data analysis. In probability sampling method, the respondents are chosen at random. The simple random method shall be the best suited method of sampling in this research study. On the other hand, Tille & Wilhelm (2017) stated that, non-probability sampling method is much different from the probability sampling. Under non-probability sampling method, the researcher is capable of selecting the respondents as per his/her requirements.

For this particular research study, the researcher shall use Probability sampling method in order to select the workers of the suppliers of Primark located in India, China and Bangladesh. The researcher shall choose on a random basis, the respondents of Primark by using simple random sample.

Accessibility issues:

Every researcher faces certain kinds of issues pertaining to the accessibility of the required data or other relevant subject while conducting the research process. The major drawback is that the feedback obtained from the respondents are not always correct (Silverman, 2016). There is a huge possibility that they positive, negative or mixed feedback about the particular company. Therefore, these are the issues faced by the researcher pertaining to the data. Another major drawback is that in this case the respondents are the labors working in the factories of the suppliers of Primark who can be easily misguided by the labor unions. This might lead to negative feedback about the company. The other risk is the influence of the factory managers on the workers might prohibit them from revealing the actual situation. Therefore, the researcher might face these kinds of issues pertaining to accessibility during the entire research project.

Ethical issues:

The researchers are required to maintain certain ethical norms while carrying the research process. Various acts state that the researchers are required to ensure the secrecy of the data. The researcher must keep the information provided by the respondents secret. The researcher must not publish any data without proper permission. The researcher needs to be confident about the fact that the collected data shall never be used for any sort of purpose that is not ethical.

The researcher is required to take the permission of the respondents before involving them in research process. The researcher must provide case related information to the respondents and state the purpose and necessity of the particular research study.  

3.7. Research limitation:

Time and cost shall be the limitations in this particular research study. Limited time and budget shall be the major limitations in this case.

Gnatt chart:

Main activities/ stages

Month

May

Month

June

Month

July

Month

August

Month

September

Month

October

Topic Selection

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Data collection from secondary sources

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

Framing layout of the research

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

Literature review

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

 

Formation of the Research Plan

 

 

Yes

Yes

 

 

Selection of the Appropriate Research Techniques

 

 

 

Yes

Yes 

 

Primary data collection

 

 

 

 

Yes 

Yes

Analysis & Interpretation of Data Collection

 

 

 

 

Yes

Yes

Conclusion of the Study

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

Formation of Rough, Draft

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

Submission of Final Work

 

 

 

 

 

Yes 

Recommendation:

The researcher shall analyze the data with the help of quantitative data analysis technique as the data shall be collected from the workers working in the factories of the suppliers of Primark. This shall be like a survey process and the result shall be analyzed using relevant mathematical formula. The final findings shall be presented by the researcher in Microsoft Excel sheet.

References:

Aula, P., & Heinonen, J. (2016). Towards an Accountable Firm. In The Reputable Firm (pp. 65-82). Springer International Publishing.

Carroll, A. B. (2015). Corporate social responsibility. Organizational Dynamics, 44(2), 87-96.

Clapp, J., & Rowlands, I. H. (2014). Corporate social responsibility. The Essential Guide to Global Environmental Governance. Routledge: London, 42-44.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Dach, L., & Allmendinger, K. (2014). Sustainability in Corporate Communications and its Influence on Consumer Awareness and Perceptions: A study of H&M and Primark. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 130, 409-418.

Farooq, O., Payaud, M., Merunka, D., & Valette-Florence, P. (2014). The impact of corporate social responsibility on organizational commitment: Exploring multiple mediation mechanisms. Journal of Business Ethics, 125(4), 563-580.

Fernandez-Feijoo, B., Romero, S., & Ruiz, S. (2014). Commitment to corporate social responsibility measured through global reporting initiative reporting: Factors affecting the behavior of companies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 81, 244-254.

Harjoto, M., Laksmana, I., & Lee, R. (2015). Board diversity and corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 641-660.

Hopkins, M. (2016). The planetary bargain: corporate social responsibility comes of age. Springer.

Korschun, D., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Swain, S. D. (2014). Corporate social responsibility, customer orientation, and the job performance of frontline employees. Journal of Marketing, 78(3), 20-37.

Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2015). Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge.

McWilliams, A. (2014). Economics of Corporate Social Responsibility. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Moon, J. (2014). Corporate social responsibility: A very short introduction. OUP Oxford.

Moon, J. W. (2017). Doing the right thing: corporate social responsibility in a global marketplace.

Nassaji, H. (2015). Qualitative and descriptive research: Data type versus data analysis.

Pedersen, E. R. G., & Gwozdz, W. (2014). From resistance to opportunity-seeking: Strategic responses to institutional pressures for corporate social responsibility in the Nordic fashion industry. Journal of business ethics, 119(2), 245-264.

Perry, P., Fernie, J., & Wood, S. (2014). The international fashion supply chain and corporate social responsibility. Logistics and Retail Management, 4th edition, Kogan Page, London, 77-99.

Pigors, M., & Rockenbach, B. (2016). Consumer social responsibility. Management Science, 62(11), 3123-3137.

Primark - Homepage. (2017). Primark.com. Retrieved 19 May 2017, from https://www.primark.com/en/homepage

Salib, J., Sun, D., Wu, J., Wen, X., & Huang, C. C. (2015). Corporate Social Responsibility.

Silverman, D. (Ed.). (2016). Qualitative research. Sage.

Thompson, W. (Ed.). (2013). Sampling rare or elusive species: concepts, designs, and techniques for estimating population parameters. Island Press.

Tillé, Y., & Wilhelm, M. (2017). Probability Sampling Designs: Principles for Choice of Design and Balancing. Statistical Science, 32(2), 176-189.

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