document(2) (1) - J Bus Ethics(2011 99:916 DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1161-x Corporate Social Responsibility A Strategic Advantage or a Strategic Necessity

document(2) (1) - J Bus Ethics(2011 99:916 DOI...

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Corporate Social Responsibility: A Strategic Advantageor a Strategic Necessity? Joyce FalkenbergPetter BrunsælPublished online: 24 January 2012ÓSpringer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012AbstractFor many firms, a focus on corporate socialresponsibility (CSR) is an indication to stakeholders that thefirm is concerned about social and environmental issues.However, these same firms may engage in CSR activitieswith the expectation that these activities will increase theirbottom line. A relevant, and highly researched question, isthe relationship between CSR and performance. The find-ings are inconclusive, indicating a need to consider otherexplanations. Several authors have drawn on the resource-based view of the firm to suggest that CSR can give a firm acompetitive advantage. In this article we draw on and furtherdevelop this research, by focusing on four outcomes ofCSR initiatives: strategic disadvantage, strategic necessity,temporary strategic advantage, and strategic advantage.We exemplify this with two cases. The article contributes tothe literature by developing a set of possible outcomes, byrecognizing several issues which result in strategic neces-sity, and by suggesting movement between the outcomes.KeywordsCorporate social responsibilityÁReputationÁResource-based viewÁStrategic advantageÁStrategic necessityIntroductionThere is an on-going debate as to whether firms engage inCSR activities because they are good citizens or theybelieve that CSR will lead to increased profitability. In arecentJournal of Business Ethicsarticle Shen and Chang(2009, p. 134) investigate the research based on two123J Bus Ethics (2011) 99:9–16DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1161-x competing hypotheses and summarize: ‘‘Empirical studies regarding the relationship between CSR and performance are mixed.’’ This suggests a need for alternative explana- tions of the relationship between CSR and profitability. In this article we draw on the resource based view (RBV) of the firm. This framework is not new in explaining the relationship between CSR and performance; however, there has been little attention given to other possible out- comes for CSR activities as implied by the VRIO frame- work. We use the framework to suggest that CSR outcomes include strategic necessity or temporary advantage in addition to strategic advantage. We then draw on examples from two firms to discuss the outcomes. The examples suggest a more complex path to strategic advantage or strategic necessity. The article contributes to the work on CSR and perfor- mance by arguing for a set of possible outcomes, by developing strategic necessity as an outcome, and by suggesting movement between the outcomes. We begin the article by discussing the CSR construct. Next, the resource-based perspective which is used as the theoretical framework is presented. The two examples are presented and analyzed. Finally, the findings are discussed, and conclusions are drawn. Perspectives on CSR In this section we focus on CSR. We present and discuss different definitions used for CSR, and discuss why CSR has been important for companies. We also present the well known debate between Friedman and Freeman on the role of business, and in that connection, the role of CSR. Carroll ( 1999 ) presents and discusses a number of defi- nitions of CSR. An early definition of CSR is given by J. Falkenberg ( & ) Á P. Brunsæl University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway e-mail: [email protected]
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Bowen (1953 in Carroll1999, p. 270) as ‘‘the obligations ofbusinessmen to pursue those policies, to make those deci-sion, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable interms of the objective and values of our society.’’ The defi-nition has been evolved to recognize the activities beyond thefirm’s economic and technical interest (Davis, 1960, 1973 inCarroll1999) and to include a focus on employees, con-sumers, suppliers, and communities (Johanson 1971 inCarroll1999). A commonly used definition is Davis’s foundin Carroll (1999): ‘‘Consideration of, and response to, issuesbeyond the narrow economic, technical, and legal require-ments of the firm to accomplish social benefits along with thetraditional economic gains which the firm seeks’’ (David,1973 in Carroll1999, p. 277).
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  • Fall '14
  • DeborahPembleton
  • Business Ethics, Corporate social responsibility, CSR activities

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