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Corporate Social Responsibility (Management Theory and Practice)


Corporate social responsibility (here in and after abbreviated as CSR) is an organisation’s commitment to observe and safeguard the overall well-being of the society in pursuit of their day to day goals and objectives (Korschun, Bhattacharya, and Swain, 2014). CSR is founded on the basis of stakeholder democracy which recognises that business organisations comprise of various interest groups possessing special interests and concerns that have an impact on the larger interests of an organisation. Various appellations including but not limited to corporate citizenship, philanthropic deeds, and social responsibility guide organisation’s obligation to achieve a CSR sustainably. The following essay seeks to understand how organisations achieve corporate social responsibility sustainably with particular reference to CSR practices undertaken by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). After a thorough description, application and evaluation of relevant theoretical underpinnings, the essay attempts to understand how much these theoretical concepts impact sustainability practices on the chosen company.

The essay also sheds light on the impact on stakeholders (society, workers, suppliers, and customers) if the firm imputes corporate social responsibility. Examination of CSR is crucial in understanding the inter-twinned relationship between corporate resources and business practices which impact on quality of life, organisational profitability, and environmental issues. This essay poses an argument that KFC has highly embraced and implemented CSR practices that have led to the company’s competitive advantage in the fast food industry. The essay further argues that these theoretical frameworks are highly relevant in present day businesses, in the light that they achievement of a sustainable business environment in the purse of their key goals and objectives.

Background of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)

KFC is among the largest fast food restaurant companies globally with over 9000 stores in 118 countries specialising in fried chicken among other fast foods such as burgers and fries. The company was founded by Harland Sanders in the in 1952 and has its headquarter currently situated in Louisville, United States.

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From time to time, its menu has been expanded including more of fast foods as well as vegetables and drinks to cater for every individual’s tastes and preferences. Today, their menu comprises of many products with diverse flavors and tastes such as wraps, French fries, salads, soft drinks, and fillet burgers. The company marketing and branding slogans are; “Finger Lickin Good,” “so good,” and “nobody does chicken like KFC.” Their main competitors in the fast food industry are companies dealing with fast food products; such businesses include; McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Dominos, Pizza Hut and Subway

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KFC has embraced diverse pathways with the application of appropriate theoretical frameworks to stimulate CSR deeds among its stakeholders. The company’s sustainability measures and activities are deeply rooted in the avenues such as education, employees, animal welfare, food, diversity, natural environment and society at large.

Ethical theories and considerations have had a high applicability in present day corporate world. It has been argued that ethical theories play an integral role in achieving sustainability in an organisation. Ethical behaviour guides the values, ethical conduct and dilemmas as well as moral responsibilities in an organisation. An important element of ethical theories is the concept of utilitarianism because it guides the activities and operations of a firm in the best course of the larger population. Utilitarianism argues that an action is moral and ethical provided it delivers the overall well-being of the larger population (Letwin et al. 2016). However, not all organisations subscribe to the concept of utilitarianism for a reason embedded in their organisational culture. Some organisations feel that while an action is only considered to be good if it serves the interests of the larger population, at the expense of the minority group (Rosile & Sanchez, 2016). Organisation feels that in as much as an action may yield pleasure for the majority population, the same action may cause pain on the minority group. Theory, therefore, does not address the complexity of other factors such as honour that need to be met for the greater good of the population and that of an organisation.

Motivation theories have also gained a considerable importance over the past years due to their applicability in achieving a productive and loyal workforce. Motivation theories such as motivation hygiene and hierarchy of needs theories are now considered as highly relevant in serving the needs of employees in a workplace while at the same time ensuring CSR. It has been argued that motivation hygiene theory coined by Frederick Herzberg postulate either satisfaction or dissatisfaction in a place of work. The theory suggests that supervisors must pursue factors that stimulate satisfaction such as recognition and achievement to motivate employees (Lacey, Kennett-Hensel & Manolis, 2015). The organisational, managerial team must, therefore, work towards the provision of job enrichment strategies in a working environment. On the other hand, the hierarchy of needs theory suggested by Abraham Maslow is based on human satisfaction (Taormina, & Gao, 2013). Managers, therefore, ought to understand employee level and ways to motivate them. According to Taormina & Gao, (2013) employees will often seek to advance through different levels in a workplace to achieve self-actualisation. However, not all employees can be understood using a hierarchy of needs theory since some of them exhibit a relatively low level of motivation, for instance, an individual suffering from chronic unemployment.

Path- goal theory also has high applicability in the present business world. The theory argues that specific leadership traits and styles are important in motivating employees and ensuring CSR and impacting on organisation’s sustainability (Malik, 2013). The primary objective suggested by the theory is increasing employee satisfaction and motivation to impact on their productivity level. An effective leader in an organisation needs to recognise that every employee possesses his or her individual needs and interests and will, therefore, act in a manner based on their expectation (Alanazi, Alharthey, & Rasli, 2013). Such a leader will, therefore, adjust their leadership style and focus on factors that impact employee motivation.

The above theories can be understood in the context of KFC. The company has achieved CSR and sustainability through the application of the theories mentioned above. KFC has applied ethical theories to improve animal welfare and enhance food quality by serving hygienic and nutritional foodstuffs. The company provides healthy and quality products that have less fat to reduce fat-related diseases such as heart attacks and obesity cases. Additionally, KFC has tried its best to address environmental concerns such as pollution. KFC ensures that most of its packaging is done with recyclable materials. The company makes use of energy efficient appliances such as star plus ovens and lighting systems consequently reducing the level of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. KFC is also committed to ensuring the overall well-being of the society. The organisation has offered an avalanche of scholarships and has contributed in other philanthropic deeds such as fundraising events and programs that promote the welfare of the community.

Participating in the CSR above has had significant benefits to KFC. The firm has enjoyed a great deal of potential customers by creating a good impression to the society and the world as a whole. Besides KFC achieving a CSR and sustainable business operations, the company has enjoyed a range of benefits such as strong brand position, an enhanced corporate image, increased market value and sales, capacity to attract, motivate and retain workers and increased stock value resulting from the attraction of new investors.


To terminate, as an outcome of the above evaluation of the applicability of the relevant theoretical concepts and CSR practices in respect to KFC, it is clear that KFC has realised many benefits to the company and stakeholders (society, workers, suppliers and customers). Firstly, KFC has maintained a well- trained and motivated workforce hence increasing worker commitment and loyalty to the company thereby reducing turnover rates. Secondly, KFC has engaged in benevolent plans and philanthropic deeds to ensure the overall well-being of the society. This has consequently impacted on company’s reputation which increases their customer base and brand awareness. Additionally, taking effective measures such as green buildings has ensured that KFC protects and maintains a sustainable natural environment. Fourthly, KFC in conjunction with suppliers has shown its commitment to proper handling of chickens in their cages which impacts on animal welfare.

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Lastly but not least, the aspect of diversity in KFC dwells in giving free reins to its employees and advocating for a diverse labour force that values the diversity regarding culture, religion, and language. This has impacted on KFC performance thereby realising positive results at the end.


Alanazi, T. R., Alharthey, B. K., & Rasli, A. (2013). Overview of path-goal leadership theory. Sains Humanika, 64(2).

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

Lacey, R., Kennett-Hensel, P. A., & Manolis, C. (2015). Is corporate social responsibility a motivator or hygiene factor? Insights into its bivalent nature. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43(3), 315-332.

Letwin, C., Wo, D., Folger, R., Rice, D., Taylor, R., Richard, B., & Taylor, S. (2016). The “right” and the “good” in ethical leadership: Implications for supervisors’ performance and promotability evaluations. Journal of Business Ethics, 137(4), 743-755.

Malik, S. H. (2013). Relationship between Leader Behaviors and Employees’ Job Satisfaction: A Path-Goal Approach. Pakistan Journal of Commerce & Social Sciences, 7(1).

Rosile, G. A., & Sanchez, M. (2016). Business Ethics Overview and Current Trends. In Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics (pp. 39-66). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Smith, I. H., & Brief, A. P. (2012). Managerial Ethics: Managing the Psychology of Morality, ed. Marshall Schminke (New York: Routledge, 2010). Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(02), 456 463.

Taormina, R. J., & Gao, J. H. (2013). Maslow and the motivation hierarchy: Measuring satisfaction of the needs. The American journal of psychology, 126(2), 155-177.