Sensemaking in the construction industry: what is small-business social responsibility?

Publication Name

Social Responsibility Journal


Purpose: Socially responsible firms are known to improve competitive advantage and create workplaces that protect employees and the society in the long-term. Yet, the transitionary and project-based nature of the construction industry makes it difficult to espouse socially responsible practices. This study aims to adopt a person-centric conceptualisation of social responsibility by drawing on processes of individual sensemaking to gain a deeper understanding of small-business social responsibility (SBSR). Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 people from the construction industry in Sri Lanka to develop retrospective narratives. Findings: The findings suggest that individuals in small-business construction firms rely on intraindividual, organisational and wider societal considerations to make sense of SBSR. What drives these interviewees to be responsible is determined not so much by profitability or reputation but by their own SBSR sensemaking process. Originality/value: This study examines how individuals make sense of social responsibility in transitionary project-based small businesses in the construction industry.

Open Access Status

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