eBay Inc.’s Corporate Social Responsibility & Stakeholders (CSR Analysis)

eBay Inc. corporate social responsibility, stakeholder analysis, corporate citizenship interests e-commerce sustainability case study and recommendations
An eBay office in Toronto. eBay Inc.’s corporate social responsibility strategy focuses on some stakeholders and their interests. The company can improve its corporate citizenship by equally emphasizing other stakeholders and interests, such as sustainability in e-commerce. (Photo: Public Domain)

eBay Inc.’s position among the biggest e-commerce companies in the global market empowers its business to significantly impact stakeholders through an effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. In Archie B. Carroll’s theory of corporate responsibility, businesses and stakeholders impact each other. As a result, it is beneficial that companies consider and satisfy stakeholders’ interests. In eBay’s case, such interests are associated with how buyers and sellers use online trading platforms and related technologies. For example, the ubiquity of Internet access relates with the global impact of the company’s CSR efforts. At present, eBay’s corporate citizenship programs are focused on entrepreneurship. CSR initiatives for causes other than entrepreneurship have lower priority in the company’s managerial decisions. This corporate social responsibility focus is aligned with the nature of the business, which facilitates online trading. However, concerns on business sustainability and green technologies warrant prioritization, as well. A more holistic corporate citizenship strategy can boost eBay Inc.’s brand image and position as an influencer in the e-commerce industry.

eBay’s corporate social responsibility strategy guides managers in initiating corresponding behavioral changes among employees. For example, the company encourages employee involvement in outreach programs for CSR purposes. While the corporation focuses on entrepreneurship, other corporate responsibility concerns are also considered in management decisions. For instance, stakeholders’ interests in green and sustainable business also guide managerial efforts in developing e-commerce services provided to merchants and shoppers. This business analysis of eBay Inc. shows corporate citizenship efforts that aim at using e-commerce to support progress among stakeholders.

eBay’s Stakeholder Groups & CSR Initiatives

eBay Inc. has an entrepreneurship-focused corporate social responsibility strategy. For example, the strategy puts “opportunity for all” as a way to fulfill the interests of sellers, especially those from low-income communities. In this CSR approach, the company satisfies the interests of stakeholders most directly linked to its international e-commerce business: sellers. Still, sustainability and green management are also significant in the company’s corporate responsibility efforts. While various programs and initiatives are included in such efforts, eBay’s corporate citizenship strategy prioritizes the following stakeholders:

  1. Sellers/Entrepreneurs (most significant/highest priority)
  2. Environment
  3. Consumers

Sellers/Entrepreneurs. This stakeholder group has the highest prioritization in eBay Inc.’s corporate social responsibility programs. For example, the company’s main global impact goal, “opportunity for all,” is to give opportunities for vendors from depressed or low-income communities. In a way, this CSR prong touches on the interests of communities as stakeholders. However, given the nature of the company’s emphasis on using its online trading platforms, such corporate responsibility initiatives actually focus on sellers on these platforms. In relation, the eBay Foundation emphasize financial support for entrepreneurs. Corresponding strategic management decisions highlight the importance of sales in growing the e-commerce business. These corporate citizenship programs for entrepreneurs or sellers are aligned with eBay’s corporate mission and vision statements, which aim for market leadership. Such leadership is also among the goals in eBay’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies.

Environment. The natural environment is considered a main stakeholder in eBay Inc.’s corporate responsibility strategy. Business sustainability, green initiatives, and related management programs are included in this aspect of the strategy. One of the main goals for such ecological interests is to achieve a “circular economy” where carbon emissions are reduced by selling pre-owned items on the company’s online marketplace, classifieds, and ticket exchange platforms. This goal shows that eBay’s corporate social responsibility approach is significantly based on the online nature of the international business. Also, such component of the CSR strategy aligns with the ecological trends identified in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of eBay Inc. For example, the company’s corporate citizenship aim of using 100% renewable energy for electricity needs by 2025 directly addresses the increasing availability of renewable energy.

Consumers. eBay Inc.’s corporate social responsibility activities partly satisfy the interests of consumers as a major stakeholder group in the e-commerce business. CSR initiatives for consumers are an extension of the “circular economy” goal mainly aimed at satisfying green or sustainability interests. For example, the company’s CSR programs include streamlining online services for consumers to sell their pre-owned items. eBay’s organizational culture influences consumers’ experiences and, thus, how they utilize the company’s websites for selling pre-owned items. Thus, cultural support is significant in this component of the corporate responsibility strategy. In order to attain such corporate citizenship goals, eBay’s operations management must suit consumers’ expectations regarding effective services available from the multinational business.

Summary & Recommendations – eBay’s CSR Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests

Summary. eBay Inc.’s corporate social responsibility programs satisfy three of the main stakeholder groups of the business. For example, the company satisfies current and potential sellers on its online trading platforms. The efficiencies of these platforms address ecological interests. Moreover, consumers are provided with a venue for selling pre-owned items, improving their carbon footprint in the process. eBay’s CSR efforts are appropriate to the nature of the e-commerce industry because they maximize information technology usage for corporate citizenship. Such technologies facilitate green living and business sustainability, adding to the strengths identified in the SWOT analysis of eBay Inc., and addressing competition with Amazon, Walmart (Walmart Marketplace) and other companies with considerable online presence.

Recommendations. This business analysis highlights the benefits of matching business nature with corporate responsibility strategies. eBay’s case shows a CSR strategy that boosts business performance while satisfying major stakeholders’ interests. However, the company’s corporate citizenship initiatives have limited consideration for some stakeholders. Also, the strong force of competition shown in the Porter’s Five Forces analysis of eBay Inc. could get stronger, as the online environment has low to moderate barriers to entry. Reforming the CSR strategy can help address these issues. The following are the recommendations for improving eBay Inc.’s corporate citizenship status:

  1. Distribute CSR efforts to equally consider all major stakeholder groups. Currently, the CSR focus is on sellers through entrepreneurship support via the company’s online trading platforms.
  2. Increase efforts for sustainability. The company can strengthen its brand image through comprehensive sustainability programs that encompass the operations of subsidiaries like StubHub and Kijiji.
  3. Improve community development support. The company’s current emphasis on entrepreneurship has significant contributions to community development. However, this benefit of the CSR strategy is indirect.
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  • Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2016). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.
  • Ditlev-Simonsen, C. D., & Wenstop, F. (2013). How stakeholders view stakeholders as CSR motivators. Social Responsibility Journal9(1), 137-147.
  • eBay Foundation.
  • Miles, M. P., Munilla, L. S., & Darroch, J. (2006). The role of strategic conversations with stakeholders in the formation of corporate social responsibility strategy. Journal of Business Ethics69(2), 195-205.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration – Retail Services Spotlight – The Retail Services Industry in the United States.