ABSTRACT: The research was on the thrust to examine Corporate Social Responsibility as Public Relations Tool in Telecommunications Industry in Nigeria with a specific focus on MTN Benin City. It has been established that the role of public relations in an organization cannot be easily fathom especially in helping corporate organisation like MTN to be socially responsible. The research was anchored on System Theory and Situational Theory. The study adopted survey research method coupled with questionnaire that was administered to the respondents to elicit responses. The researcher employed multistage sampling technique to select 400 respondents in four local governments of Edo state (Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha, Ovia South-West and Ihunmwonde) and staff of MTN Benin, using accidental sampling technique. The data collected were analysed using frequency and percentage method. Findings show that MTN CSR score card is below average as many of the respondents emphasised that they neither benefited from MTN CSR nor their communities gain from MTN CSR, although, they agreed that most of MTN CSR programmes and activities they have seen cut across, education, sport and cultural promoting. It is recommended that organizations who are yet to be socially responsible should as a matter of responsibility design and device ways that this will be integrated into their philosophy or core values while meaningful amount of money should be earmarked time to time to take care of corporate social responsibility activities and programmes.
1.1 Background of the Study
No organization exists and operates in a vacuum; business operates in a dynamic environment, the growth and survival of an organisation is dependent on the environment and other factors. A better understanding of the environment and how it works will help in the understanding of the community relations and social responsibility of the organisation. The essence of the social responsibility is to give the people in the hosting community sense of belonging, show concerns, share and identified with their problem etc.
Going by the definition of British Institute of Public Relations (BIPR) as cited in Arowosegbe (2005) that public relations is a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between and organization its public. This implies that one of the core objectives of public relations is to ensure mutual understanding between an organisation and its various public. Public relations is an essential function of management because no organisation can survive without good rapport with public. Organisations, institutions, individuals and corporate entity do have two or more public they deal with and as a result, they must strike a balance so as not to lose their reputation and trust rather they build, maintain and sustain good image (Adegoke, 2001).
Thus, for any business organisation to achieve growth, increase in turn over, assets and profit, it needs to have a built-in, self-regulating mechanism for such business to monitor and ensure its adherence to laws, ethical standards, norms and nuances of its environment. In the interest of its business and its environment, an organisation needs to relate its operations and policies in ways that are mutually beneficial.
Adegoke, (2001) stresses that the global socio-economic climate has developed an emergent system, which responds to corporate and commercial necessities within a defined state or outside of it. The field of international corporate responsibility has assumed an important subfield of business ethics in response to increasing concerns about the ethical conduct of international businesses. It includes business conduct for multinational enterprises, corporate responsibility and environmental issues in developing economies.
Corporate social responsibility is presently defined by the World Business Council of Sustainable Development as persistent commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while also increasing the quality of life of employees, their families, and the community. Corporate social responsibility is a key quality in social economic development. It is presently defined as persistent commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while also increasing the quality of life of employees and their families, as well as the local community and society that they live in (Olayinka, 2013). Corporate social responsibility is now broadly understood as including respect for the environment.
Therefore, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a form of self-regulation, conscious attempts and self-efforts undertaken by organisations for self-preservation and enhancement of their operations. It is usually integrated into a business model for an organisation to be able to live in harmony with its operating environment. When proactively undertaken, it does promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and by voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. According to David and Güler, (2008). defines corporate social responsibility as “A commitment to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources”. CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making and the honouring of a triple bottom line known as People, Planet and Profit. The aims of CSR encourage businesses to actively and voluntarily contribute to community development. It implies a kind of social responsibility on the part of an organization making it to deliberate and continuously undertakes course of action that are in its public best interest.
Meanwhile, the telecommunication industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Nigeria. There are so many telecommunication companies owned by foreign and local corporate bodies in Nigeria. These telecommunication industries have covered a large area in Nigeria from urban to rural areas in the country with many publics from government to the subscribers, the community where they erected their mast and other machines and equipment and so on. Also, majority of the people believe that there is money in this sector and as a result much is expected of them by the government, individuals and so on.
There is no doubt about the fact that one of the organisations or sector that must have a strong corporate social responsibility and community oriented activities that will interest people and community at large is telecommunication industry because their success rest on the number of people that subscribe to their services and products. This research thus focusing on MTN Nigeria with an overview of its corporate social responsibility and how much it has benefited the community and the industry itself. It also examines some of the programmes, projects and activities of MTN that have been deployed in achieving this.
It should be established that MTN as a telecommunication giant in Nigeria is doing its best in the area of social responsible as a way of contributing and given back to the people and society at large. In order for the MTN to effectively have good corporate social responsibility lead to MTN foundation (MTN, 2018). The MTN Nigeria Foundation Limited was established for the purpose of focusing MTN Nigeria’s efforts in terms of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to help reduce poverty and foster sustainable development in Nigeria. In September 2004, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited consulted with a diverse group of stakeholders across the country to ascertain the needs of the Nigerian people. The findings of this rich consultative process enabled the development of a more focused strategy under the three portfolio areas, Education, Health and Economic Empowerment. In conjunction with local and international partner organisations, MTN Nigeria Foundation remains committed to improving individual and communal lives through social investment projects that nurture people’s inherent abilities, care for and respect people’s dignity and help create economic value in their lives. The Foundation has been able to support and sponsoring programmes, activities and events in Nigeria such as: MTN who wants to be a millionaire, MTN project fame, sponsoring of Osun Osogbo festival, Sponsoring of Olojo’s festival in Ile-Ife and so on (MTN, 2018).
It is against this background that this research examines corporate social responsibility as public relations tool in the communication industry with a specific focus on MTN Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Corporate Social Responsibility in many telecommunications in Nigeria attracted less attention and budget unlike advertisement campaign despite the National Communication Commission and other agencies directives the telecommunication industry should engage in CSR to a certain level. Also, facts revealed that Nigerian telecommunication operates within a climate of endemic corruption that has poor corporate governance, with several cases of unethical practices such as high tariff, poor network, poor response from customer care unit, wrong deduction of credit unit, receiving unsubscribed sms and so on.
It is against this backdrop that the research is geared towards examining corporate social responsibility as public relations tool in the communication industry with a specific focus on MTN Nigeria and to know the extent and how best to implement it, in line with global best practices.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine the extent which MTN pay attention to CSR since its operation in
- To ascertain ways and methods by which MTN is carrying out its CSR to the various community in Nigeria.
- To determine whether MTN is utilizing CSR to build its corporate image.
- To evaluate the level of effectiveness of MTN CSR programmes, especially now that some of its programmes like MTN who wants to be a millionaire and MTN project fame have been stopped?
- To highlight some of the challenges that may be hampering MTN effectiveness in discharging its CSR
- To find out whether MTN Corporate Social Responsibility has enhanced customers’ confidence and increase customers’ patronage.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent does MTN pay attention to CSR since its operation in Nigeria?
- How has MTN carrying out its CSR to the various community in Nigeria?
- To what extent has MTN utilized CSR to build its corporate image?
- How effective are MTN CSR programmes, especially now that some of its programmes like MTN who wants to be a millionaire, MTN project fame have been stopped?
- What challenges hampering MTN effectiveness in discharging its CSR?
- To what extent has MTN Corporate Social Responsibility enhanced customers’ confidence and increase customers’ patronage?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study of social responsibility of a business organization is hoped to be of benefits not only to students, businessmen, government, customers, community, stockholders, academics, but the whole society.
The study also hopes to highlight the problem associated with social responsibility and to make use of the analysis to improve the working situations thereby minimizing the problems social responsibility conflict in that organization and its environment as well.
Moreover, this work will also serve as a working tool for Chief Executives and managers in organizations like (MTN and other telecommunication companies); this piece of work will actually form a basis for further development and as well contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the area of CSR on corporate image and performance.
The study will inform all at large, the need for corporate social responsibility not only to the firm, but to the society at large while the future researchers who will be researching into the area related to this topic will find this work relevant as a reference material.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which examines the corporate social responsibility as public relations tool in the communication industry has been narrowed in scope to MTN Nigeria. The choice of MTN Nigeria is due to the position occurs as the leading telecommunication giant in Nigeria.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Corporate Social Responsibility: In this study, corporate social responsibility is refers to all activities, projects, programmes and supports offers by the MTN to an individual, group, community, state and Nigeria at large such as sponsoring of games, festival, building of water, building of schools etc Corporate Social Responsibility is often shorten as CSR.
Public Relations: This means various efforts to establish and maintain mutual understanding between MTN and its various publics particularly in the form of community relations, sponsoring, building and assisting the people and community at large using CSR.
Communication Industry: This refers to the telecommunication sector especially the private telecommunication companies that offer calling, data and other services to the Nigerians such as MTN, GLo, Airtel and Etizalat.
MTN Nigeria: This refers to one of the telecommunication companies in Nigeria that is currently leading the sector with about 46% subscribers. It is often shorten as MTN with its coverage reach many cities and local communities in Nigeria.