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Importance of CSR in Dogma business
  • 5

  • Course Code:
  • University: Curtin University
  • Country: Australia

Deciding among CSR options 

In-class activity 1: Students Presentation Group Project

Ben Jones works as a social media marketing specialist for DogMa, a regional chain of pet-care product retailers in the Northeastern United States. The company produces its own line of high-quality dog food as well as selling all major national brands, and each store has a large dog-washing area.

True to its name, DogMa provides both dog-walking services and a kenneling service for when customers leave town. DogMa is growing rapidly and believes that a CSR program would be good for the company and its employees.

Dogma’s founder has two children with disabilities and wants to see the company support early childhood programs for children with disabilities. Others in the company feel that DogMa should focus on something related to dogs, either supporting rescue shelters or training programs for service animals.

There is also a group that believes the company should support efforts to ban the use of dogs as landmine sniffers. Ben has been assigned to a CSR committee that will recommend a focus area to DogMa’s executive team.

The assignment for the first meeting is to come with a list of pros and cons for each of these three options, plus at least one other idea. Ben asks himself several questions as he prepares:

What are the benefits of being involved in each activity? What are the risks? What criteria should the committee use to evaluate each option?

Discussion Questions

1.    What is the core identity of the company? How much of CSR should be driven by the owner’s identity?
2.    Should CSR be “strategic” and related to the business, or can it encompass broader issues, such as care for children with disabilities?
3.    How much should CSR focus on promoting positive behaviours (for example, training service animals), versus eliminating negative behaviours (using dogs as land-mine sniffers)?


Growing importance of CSR in modern businesses (Chia et al., 2020).

  • DogMa's rapid expansion necessitates a robust CSR program.

  • Varied opinions within the company about the ideal CSR focus (Cheng et al., 2021).

In recent years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has transitioned from a mere auxiliary function to a pivotal element in the strategic planning of progressive enterprises. As DogMa flourishes in its regional domain, the amplification of its societal footprint becomes increasingly inevitable.

With the company's multifaceted nature – from retailing pet products to offering dog-related services – the selection of a suitable CSR avenue becomes both a challenge and an opportunity.

While the founder's personal inclination gravitates towards supporting early childhood programmes for children with disabilities, there's a resonating belief among other stakeholders that the CSR initiatives should more directly reflect the company's canine-centric identity. This divergence in viewpoints underscores the need for a meticulous evaluation of the potential areas of CSR focus for DogMa.

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Core Identity Of DogMa

  • Regional chain of pet-care product retailers in the Northeastern US.

  • Production of high-quality dog food alongside retailing national brands.

  • Comprehensive services including dog-washing, dog-walking, and kenneling.

  • Founder's personal experiences influencing the company's ethos.


Established as a regional stalwart in the Northeastern US pet-care retail sector, DogMa prides itself on offering an array of premium services and products. Beyond the mere retail of major national brands, the firm has ventured into crafting its own distinguished line of dog food, ensuring optimal nutrition for pets.

The company's holistic approach extends further, encapsulated by their dedicated dog-washing areas and their commitment to both dog-walking and kenneling services.

Intriguingly, the tapestry of DogMa's identity is woven with threads from its founder's personal narrative. The profound impact of having two children with disabilities has inevitably permeated the company's ethos, introducing a unique dimension to its corporate identity and potentially influencing its broader societal engagements.

Influence of Owner’s Identity on CSR

•    Founder's profound personal connection to children with disabilities.
•    Potential of this connection to shape DogMa's CSR initiatives.
•    Debate on the extent to which leadership's personal interests should guide CSR.

The founder's deeply personal experience, having two children with disabilities, undoubtedly casts a significant shadow on DogMa's potential CSR trajectories. Such intimate connections often serve as a catalyst, driving leaders to leverage their corporate platforms for causes close to their hearts. However, the pivotal question remains:

To what extent should a company's CSR be moulded by the personal predilections of its leadership? While the founder's passion can provide a genuine and compelling narrative, it's essential to strike a balance, ensuring that the selected CSR endeavours resonate with the broader stakeholder community and align with the firm's overarching mission.

Engaging in CSR activities solely based on personal interests might risk alienating certain stakeholders, hence the need for a judicious evaluation of all potential avenues.

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Strategic vs. Broad CSR Approaches

Strategic CSR: Initiatives aligned with company's core business. E.g., DogMa supporting dog shelters (Vishwanathan et al., 2020).
Broad CSR: Addressing general societal concerns. E.g., DogMa backing early childhood programmes for disabled children (Soderstrom et al., 2017).

Each approach presents unique advantages and challenges.


Positive Vs. Negative Behaviour Focus in CSR

•    Promoting Positive Behaviours: Encouraging beneficial actions, e.g., training service animals (Wang et al., 2020).
•    Eliminating Negative Behaviours: Countering detrimental practices, e.g., opposing the use of dogs as landmine sniffers (Aljarahet al., 2022).
•    Each focus carries distinct implications and effectiveness levels.

 In the realm of CSR, promoting positive behaviours entails championing and incentivising actions that yield societal benefits, like DogMa potentially supporting service animal training. This proactive stance often resonates well with stakeholders, fostering goodwill and showcasing the company's commitment to societal upliftment.

Conversely, the endeavour to eliminate negative behaviours, such as DogMa's potential stance against the deployment of dogs in landmine detection, represents a reactive approach, addressing existing societal ills.

While such initiatives can highlight a firm's ethical compass, they might be met with resistance, especially if they challenge entrenched interests. Ultimately, the effectiveness of either focus hinges on its alignment with the company's values, stakeholder expectations, and the broader societal context. A judicious blend of both approaches might offer the optimal path, balancing proactive betterment with necessary interventions against harm.

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Benefits and Risks of Supporting Early Childhood Programs for Childrens with Disabilites

Pros: Strengthened alignment with founder's personal narrative, potential for significant societal betterment (Gould et al., 2020).
Cons: Perceived deviation from company's canine-centric identity, inherent challenges in effectively executing such programmes.

Supporting early childhood programmes for children with disabilities offers DogMa an opportunity to weave a poignant chapter into its CSR narrative, one deeply rooted in the founder's personal experiences. Such initiatives can create profound societal ripples, enhancing the lives of vulnerable children and casting DogMa as a compassionate corporate entity.

However, this approach is not without its challenges. Some stakeholders might perceive it as a divergence from DogMa's primary, dog-focused identity, questioning its relevance in the company's CSR portfolio.

Additionally, venturing into the intricate domain of disability support necessitates a meticulous approach, with potential pitfalls in programme design, implementation, and assessment. While the emotional resonance of this cause is undeniable, its integration into DogMa's CSR strategy must be approached with discernment, balancing heartfelt intent with pragmatic execution considerations.

Benefits and Risks Of Supporting Dog-Related Causes (rescue shelters or service animal training)

Pros: Seamless integration with DogMa's primary operations, potential to bolster brand recognition, heightened stakeholder engagement (Quoquab and Mohammad, 2019).
Cons: Possibility of converging initiatives with competing pet businesses, intricacies in selecting the most impactful programmes or shelters.

Endorsing dog-related causes, such as rescue shelters or service animal training, presents DogMa with a strategic opportunity to further entrench its identity within the canine domain. Such initiatives, given their direct alignment with the company's core operations, can amplify brand loyalty and foster deeper connections with its customer base.

This symbiotic relationship not only underscores DogMa's commitment to canine welfare but also resonates with its broader stakeholder community, promoting shared values and objectives. However, this path is not devoid of challenges.

The pet-care landscape, replete with businesses harbouring similar CSR ambitions, might lead to overlapping initiatives, diluting the uniqueness of DogMa's endeavours.

Furthermore, the sheer diversity of programmes and shelters necessitates a rigorous selection process, ensuring that DogMa's support is channelled effectively and aligns with its overarching CSR vision.

Benefits And Risks of Supporting The Ban Of Dogs As Landmine Sniffers

Pros: Confrontation of a grave and detrimental practice, opportunity for global acclaim and recognition.
Cons: Treading into potentially controversial political terrains, perceptible detachment from DogMa's core operational focus (Liu et al., 2023).

Championing the cause against the use of dogs as landmine sniffers allows DogMa to address a deeply concerning and ethically questionable practice. By taking a stand against this perilous deployment of dogs, the company not only underscores its commitment to canine welfare but also positions itself on a global stage, potentially garnering international accolades.

This advocacy could amplify DogMa's image as a socially responsible corporate entity, transcending regional boundaries. However, such a stance is not without its complexities. The landmine issue is often entangled in political and international discourses, and DogMa's involvement might inadvertently plunge it into contentious debates.

Additionally, some stakeholders might perceive this cause as a departure from the company's primary focus, questioning its relevance within DogMa's broader CSR strategy. Balancing the moral imperative against these considerations demands astute deliberation.

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Additional CSR Options for Consideration

•    Potential Focus: Environmental sustainability through eco-friendly pet products and waste management (Helfata and Moussa, 2017).
•    Benefits: Addressing global environmental concerns, potential for market differentiation.
•    Risks: Initial investment, navigating the sustainability landscape.

Conclusion And Recommendations

•    Comprehensive analysis of diverse CSR avenues undertaken.
•    Importance of aligning CSR with DogMa's identity and stakeholder values emphasised.
•    Need for a balanced approach, blending strategic CSR with broader societal engagements.

Following rigorous discussions, it's evident that DogMa stands at a pivotal juncture in its CSR journey. The company's identity, deeply interwoven with canine care, offers a natural inclination towards dog-related causes.

However, the founder's personal narrative and broader societal issues present compelling alternatives. Given these considerations, it is recommended that DogMa adopts a dual-pronged CSR approach.

Firstly, focusing on strategic initiatives such as supporting dog shelters or service animal training, capitalising on the direct alignment with its core business. Concurrently, exploring broader avenues like environmental sustainability could cater to global concerns, enhancing the company's societal footprint.

While personal passions should inform decisions, it's paramount that the chosen CSR paths resonate with the wider stakeholder community, ensuring sustainable and impactful engagements.


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