Measuring Corporate Social Performance: A Review

The David W. Wilson Chair in Business Ethics, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA
International Journal of Management Reviews (Impact Factor: 3.58). 02/2010; 12(1):50 - 84. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2009.00274.x


This paper reviews the literature on corporate social performance (CSP) measurement and sets that literature into a theoretical context. Following a review of CSP theory development and the literature on relationships between CSP and corporate financial performance, Wood's CSP model (Wood, D.J. (1991). Corporate social performance revisited. Academy of Management Review, 16, pp. 691–718) is used as an organizing device to present and discuss studies that use particular measures of CSP. Conclusions emphasize the need for CSP scholars to refocus on stakeholders and society, and to incorporate relevant literatures from other scholarly domains.

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    • "The intrinsic difficulty of economic calculations of social responsibility practices becomes clear in studies that try to assess their impacts on corporate performance. Despite numerous publications in this area, this is an on-going debate marked by uncertain conclusions, even as meta-analysis of empirical studies suggests a slightly positive relationship between social and economic performance (Orlitzky, et al. 2003; Wood, 2010). ! "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of the present article is to demonstrate the necessity of focusing on interfirm interactions when analysing the rise of socially responsible practices. The first section highlights problems with the standard business case’s explanations for the connection between economic and socio-environmental performance, highlighting the limitations of this approach’s firm-centric reasoning. A similar critique is offered as regards studies that focus on green/sustainable supply chains – simply bringing suppliers into the analysis adds to the range of actors being covered but does little to identify existing gaps in the literature. Section 3 uses the example of the automotive industry to show how the inconsistency between corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse and practice becomes clear when interfirm interactions are taken into account. The conclusion suggests that achieving real progress in the development of socially responsible practices requires the construction of a theory of interfirm social responsibility based on an institutionalist framework.
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    • "CSP has been defined as 'business activity, focusing on the impacts and outcomes for society, stakeholders and the firm' (Wood, 2010, p. 54), i.e. the 'social outcomes of firm behaviors' (Rowley & Berman, 2000, p. 398) in terms of (positive or negative) effects on the natural environment and social systems (Wood, 2010). Much research has been conducted to understand the conditions under which corporate activities can contribute to addressing social problems. "
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    ABSTRACT: The literature on corporate social performance (CSP) advocates that firms address social issues based on instrumental as well as moral rationales. While both rationales trigger initiatives to increase CSP, these rest on fundamentally different and contradicting foundations. Building on the literature on organizational ambidexterity and paradox in management, we propose in this conceptual paper that ambidexterity represents an important determinant of CSP. We explain how firms achieve higher levels of CSP through the ambidextrous ability to simultaneously pursue instrumentally and morally driven social initiatives. We distinguish between a balance dimension and a combined dimension of ambidexterity, which both enhance CSP through distinct mechanisms. With the balance dimension, instrumental and moral initiatives compensate for each other – which increases the scope of CSP. With the combined dimension, instrumental and moral initiatives supplement each other – which increases the scale of CSP. The paper identifies the most important determinants and moderators of the balance and the combined dimension to explain the conditions under which we expect firms to increase CSP through ambidexterity. By focusing on the interplay and tensions between different types of social initiatives, an ambidextrous perspective contributes to a better understanding of CSP. Regarding managerial practice, we highlight the role of structural and behavioral factors for achieving higher CSP through the simultaneous pursuit of instrumental and moral initiatives.
    Organization Studies 10/2015; accepted for publication. DOI:10.1177/0170840615604506 · 2.33 Impact Factor
    • "and Walsh, 2003; Griffin and Mahon, 1997; Wood, 2010 "

    8th Annual Conference of the EuroMed Academy of Business (EMAB), Verona; 09/2015
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