This dissertation explores the effect of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices on the firm and contributes to an understanding of how CSR practices can contribute to companies’ competitive advantage. In Chapter 1, I use three randomized field experiments implemented in online labor marketplaces to provide causal evidence of the effect of CSR on employee outcomes that have been shown to be critical to firm performance: salary requirements and employee performance. Workers were recruited for short-term jobs and I manipulated whether or not they received information about the employer’s CSR program. I then observed the payment workers were willing to accept for the job and their performance on the job. Surveys administered at the end of the experiments gauging workers’ perceptions about the received CSR information also provide insight into the distinct mechanisms through which CSR affects the different employee outcomes. This paper contributes to an understanding of how CSR adds value to the firm and highlights the role of the employee in explaining this relationship. It also demonstrates how online labor markets can be used as settings for field experimental research in strategic management more broadly.
In Chapter 2, we examine pro bono work in the legal services industry. Using a screening model we show that law firms use pro bono engagements to gain information about associates’ expected productivity as an equity partner. Using a dataset of the top 200 US law firms in 2010 we demonstrate empirical support for our model’s predictions. Our findings thus suggest that the conventional wisdom that CSR practices are used to provide information about the quality of the firm to the employee is backwards; rather, we find that pro bono engagements are used to provide information about the quality of the employee to the firm.
In Chapter 3, we explore what drives firms to combine poor environmental performance with communication about positive environmental performance, resulting in “greenwashing”. Although some explanation of firm greenwashing has been put forth, a comprehensive analysis of the determinants of firm greenwashing is lacking. Drawing from existing work in management, strategy, sociology and psychology, we propose a comprehensive framework that examines the external (both institutional and market), organizational and individual drivers of greenwashing and then use this framework to develop recommendations for managers, policymakers, and NGOs to decrease greenwashing.
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is something that was started by fashionable ‘ethical’ businesses. Realising that promoting a responsible way of doing business actually improved the bottom line soon received wider interest, and now demonstrating responsibility has become expected when bidding for major contracts. With now being the time to question your organisation’s value, see the benefits of CSR by reading on below.
The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility can be explained quite simply; it is doing the right thing. Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, is about how your organisation’s existence affects stakeholders beyond your own insular interests, recognising the impact your operations have on the community at large.
Adopting CSR considers how you can use this impact in a positive way, leading to sustainable growth and financial gains. Over the years, CSR has become more and more popular; back in 2007 more than 80% of the FTSE 100 index reported on Corporate Social Responsibility within their Annual Report.
Well recognised names, such as Google, well known for their “Do No Evil” slogan, helped popularise what was once considered something only done by ‘do-gooders’. Now, almost all major brands have CSR policies, some of which can be seen below.
Corporate Responsibility, Tesco
Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony
But its not just large multi-national companies who are benefiting thanks to CSR, smaller organisations are following suit now ‘doing good’ has been proven to reap major rewards…
What are the benefits of adopting CSR?
With the world of business being as competitive as ever, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Suppliers have to work harder to win contracts, so developing a CSR policy is a way of demonstrating your integrity, which can only reflect well on your customers. In fact, some customers don’t just prefer working with responsible companies, they demand it! This is particularly prevalent in the public sector, who are expected to set the standard. No surprises then to find that Government has set out its ambitions for Corporate Social Responsibility already.
Corporate Social Responsibility (PDF), UK Government
Reducing the amount of resources used and the waste produced isn’t just beneficial for the environment, it aids the bottom line by saving you money. When you start to measure the amount of energy, water and other resources against what you actually need, cost savings start to become obvious.
Engaging and giving back to the community is a good way of earning positive press coverage. From sponsoring a charity event, to hiring staff locally, your CSR efforts can boost your reputation massively, potentially leading to more customers. Understanding the wider impact of your business through initiatives like this can also help develop new products and/or services.
Further publicity can be gained by winning CSR related awards. There are many local, regional and national awards based around CSR and the environment.
With CSR being ever popular, you may find yourselves reaching a network of like-minded businesses who wish to do business together. Naturally, CSR-focused businesses want to ensure their supply chain follows suit to further boost their own efforts and to protect their reputation. With ethical and not-for-profit organisations numerous, there could be an untapped market waiting for what you offer.
How do you get started?
Getting started on your CSR policy can’t be simply a case of downloading a template of the web. It’s important to research your CSR issues, assess your organisation against them and develop your core values and mission. In other words, it must have real value.
In order to demonstrate your CSR formally, you could work towards a management standard which, upon certification, would prove that your credentials have been externally verified. When it comes to the environment, you can prove your eco-friendliness with the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, which is internationally recognised and has been implemented by hundreds of thousands of organisations worldwide. With an update to the ISO 14001 standard around the corner, it will become increasingly prevalent as it will include requirements on social responsibility and enaging with the supply chain.
Effective CSR like the above allows you to differentiate your organisation from the competition. It can lead to the development of new products and services that have adapted thanks to stakeholder involvement and new internal values. This can develop you into a powerful brand, and a strongly performing business. Some examples of CSR innovation are below:
Molson Coors Canada
Its difficult for a company that sells alcohol to look particularly socially responsible. However, Molson Coors Canada has used CSR to enhance its image, investing more in responsible drinking education than it does on actual alcohol related events. They have reached out to the community by being the founding sponsor for ‘TaxiGuy’, which offers a safe ride home for those who’ve had one too many, and they’ve also covered the cost of public transport on New Year’s Eve
You may not know that honeybees have been disappearing at a disturbing rate, which isn’t good news considering they responsible for a third of all food we eat, including ice-cream! This is where Haagen-Dazs came in, donating a portion of proceeds from their special honeybee brand to help research on the issue. Of course, by launching a product involved with the campaign, it gave the company a lot of positive exposure to their clients about how good they are. They also used the power of social media to spread the campaign across Twitter. The ‘buzz’ generated over 640,000 tweets and $7,000 in just 2 days.
Many examples like the above can found, but there are others out there that go further than what is essentially writing a big cheque once in a while. One such company is Salesforce. Their CSR policy is to give 1% of its profit (in the form of products), 1% of its employees’ time, and 1% of its equity to charities and other non-profit organisations. Salesforce employees are able to do 6 days of charity work each year and are actively encouraged to support charities of their own volition. This has reaped rewards when it comes to employee motivation and retention.