Purpose: This paper aims to examine the extent of corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in regional Japan. It also aims to examine the impact of firm size, industry, CSR awareness, firm origin and firm’s strategic focus on CSR.
Design/methodology/approach: The study measures the CSR performance using a CSR index and seven sub-indexes designed on the global CSR standard – ISO26000. Data were collected through a questionnaire survey of 146 firms. The indexes were analysed using Kruskal–Wallis one-way ANOVA and Mann–Whitney U tests.
Findings: The results indicate that CSR performance of firms in regional Japan is low across all main areas of CSR and is significantly lower in SMEs relative to large firms. Further, CSR performance of SMEs differs across various industries and firms established in the region display significantly lower CSR performance compared to their metropolitan counterparts.
Research limitations/implications: Little research exists on the role SME’s play in improving CSR practices in Japan, especially regarding SMEs in regional areas. The findings highlight the need for improving CSR performance of SMEs and promoting the use of ISO26000 as a guiding tool for measuring CSR performance.
Originality/value: This paper is one of the first papers that critically examine the CSR performance of SMEs in regional Japan. It highlights that despite the recent CSR boom and regulatory initiatives in Japan, CSR performance of SMEs in regional Japan remained low.