It’s All Greek to Me”—Developing Corporate Social Responsibility in Greece

 Ellie Demopoulos, Emerging Leader, International Fellows Program 2005


Abstract: Ellie Demopoulos draws on models of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the U.S. and Europe for the purpose of examining how effective CSR practices may be applied in Greece. In her paper she also looks at corporate partnerships with new and emerging community foundations to see how corporate involvement can help develop or sustain community foundations.  Finally, she identifies the challenges to the growth of CSR in Greece, where the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is responsible for coordinating the CSR effort.


Looking at the challenges Greece faces in expanding CSR practices and collaborating with community foundations, Ms. Demopoulos cites:

  • Pervasiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises, most of which are family-owned and lack the resources to take advantage of new business opportunities and CSR activities; 
  • Relatively slow development of civil society, as reflected in the undeveloped voluntary sector, the small numbers of corporate foundations, and the absence of any community foundations to date; and
  • Absence of transparency in business and governmental practices.

Ms. Demopoulos’ findings include the following:

  • CSR can play a vital role in helping businesses adopt more current and innovative community engagement practices; 
  • Business partnerships with local authorities and the voluntary sector will become increasingly important in addressing societal challenges (such as long-term unemployment and integration of ethnic minorities into the workforce);
  • Community foundations are well placed to provide businesses with access to community networks and expertise; and
  • Examples from Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Russia indicate that corporate support is helping to establish new community foundations. 


CSR can serve as a useful tool in building Third-Sector capacity, though it is a complex task that will require all players, including nonprofit organizations and politicians, to recast their roles.  Business figures deciding in favor of CSR must be visionaries and have a firm understanding that corporate responsibility is more than an advertising or marketing tool, and that it has the potential to effectively address social issues. 



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