How Responsible is Responsible Business? An analysis of the drivers and effects of the responsible business practices of Dutch enterprises operational in Kenyan agribusiness.
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Responsible business or corporate social responsibility has received increased attention in the past decade and has been identified as having the potential to make significant contributions to poverty alleviation and development. Companies are under greater pressure to take responsibility for their impacts on the societies, environment and value chain, in which they operate. There is however a great lack of research on what determines responsible behaviour in developing countries and what the impact is of ‘Western’ responsible business approaches in the context of these countries. This research, investigates how responsible business is practices by Dutch enterprises operational in Kenyan agribusiness and questions what this means for local sustainable development. Specific focus is put on the drivers of responsible business, the influence of stakeholders preventing and encouraging responsible behaviour and the impact of applying responsible business in the value chain of a certain product. The similarities and differences that occur in responsible business practices of the interviewed Dutch enterprises appear to be related to their market focus and the size of the enterprises. Results indicate that the enterprises are primarily engaged in responsible business activities because this is required or a precondition by either international standardization and international market access, or by Kenyan labour and environmental laws. The international standardization has in addition led to several negative developmental impacts within certain international value chains. This research therefore discusses the implications of the findings to practice and policy proposing that there is a need to critically question: ‘how responsible is responsible business?’