The Value of the Corporate Social Responsibility Label

Do Something Good Every Day | Source: HowardLake on Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0 LicenceThe following is a condensed, less academic excerpt of a paper I recently wrote for my final graduate course. It also represents the completion of Task #3 on my 9-Week Productivity Challenge and the beginning of a series of posts here on Earth and Money related the social and environmental impacts of our investments. The series began unofficially two weeks ago with a look at an emerging type of investment vehicle, community bonds, and Monday, introduced how we might be funding our own demise.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a major buzzword in the corporate sector. It is generally defined as the integration of social, environmental and economic concerns into the values and operations of a company, in such a way that all three are given equal weighting. In a 2012 study conducted by Taiyuan Wang and Pratima Bansal at the University of Western Ontario, they defined a socially responsible corporation as one whose actions “further the social good, outstrip the firm’s economic goals, and go beyond the legal requirement”.  They also explored relationship between CSR, financial success, and long-term versus short-term corporate orientation. They found that corporate social responsibility activities tended to result in negative financial outcomes in the short-term, but that this negative outcome could be negated by long-term corporate orientation, and that such long-term outlook was positively correlated with financial success.

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