There have long been calls from industry for guidance in implementing strategies for sustainable development. The Circular Economy represents the most recent attempt to conceptualize the integration of economic activity and environmental wellbeing in a sustainable way. This set of ideas has been adopted by China as the basis of their economic development (included in both the 11th and the 12th ‘Five Year Plan’), escalating the concept in minds of western policymakers and NGOs. This paper traces the conceptualisations and origins of the Circular Economy, tracing its meanings, and exploring its antecedents in economics and ecology, and discusses how the Circular Economy has been operationalized in business and policy. The paper finds that while the Circular Economy places emphasis on the redesign of processes and cycling of materials, which may contribute to more sustainable business models, it also encapsulates tensions and limitations. These include an absence of the social dimension inherent in sustainable development that limits its ethical dimensions, and some unintended consequences. This leads us to propose a revised definition of the Circular Economy as “an economic model wherein planning, resourcing, procurement, production and reprocessing are designed and managed, as both process and output, to maximize ecosystem functioning and human well-being”.
This paper offers a critique of sustainability reporting and, in particular, a critique of the modern disconnect between the practice of sustainability reporting and what we consider to be the urgent issue of our era: sustaining the life-supporting ecological systems on which humanity and other species depend. Tracing the history of such reporting developments, we identify and isolate the concept of the 'triple bottom line' (TBL) as a core and dominant idea that continues to pervade business reporting, and business engagement with sustainability. Incorporating an entity's economic, environmental and social performance indicators into its management and reporting processes, we argue, has become synonymous with corporate sustainability; in the process, concern for ecology has become sidelined. Moreover, this process has become reinforced and institutionalised through SustainAbility's biennial benchmarking reports, KPMG's triennial surveys of practice, initiatives by the accountancy profession and, particularly, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)'s sustainability reporting guidelines. We argue that the TBL and the GRI are insufficient conditions for organizations contributing to the sustaining of the Earth's ecology. Paradoxically, they may reinforce business-as-usual and greater levels of un-sustainability.
I propose a theory aimed at advancing scholarly research in social entrepreneurship. By highlighting the key trade-off between value creation and value capture and explaining when situations of simultaneous market and government failure may arise, I suggest that social entrepreneurship is the pursuit of sustainable solutions to neglected problems with positive externalities. I further discuss the situations in which problems with externalities are likely to be neglected and derive the central goal and logic of action of social entrepreneurs, in contrast to commercial entrepreneurs. Overall, this article provides a conceptual framework that allows understanding the growing phenomena of social entrepreneurship and its role in the functioning of modern society.
This paper proposes a systematic framework for the analysis of tensions in corporate sustainability. The framework is based on the emerging integrative view on corporate sustainability, which stresses the need for a simultaneous integration of economic, environmental and social dimensions without, a priori, emphasising one over any other. The integrative view presupposes that firms need to accept tensions in corporate sustainability and pursue different sustainability aspects simultaneously even if they seem to contradict each other. The framework proposed in this paper goes beyond the traditional triad of economic, environmental and social dimensions and argues that tensions in corporate sustainability occur between different levels, in change processes and within a temporal and spatial context. The framework provides vital groundwork for managing tensions in corporate sustainability based on paradox strategies. The paper then applies the framework to identify and characterise four selected tensions and illustrates how key approaches from the literature on strategic contradictions, tensions and paradoxes—i.e., acceptance and resolution strategies—can be used to manage these tensions. Thereby, it refines the emerging literature on the integrative view for the management of tensions in corporate sustainability. The framework also provides managers with a better understanding of tensions in corporate sustainability and enables them to embrace these tensions in their decision making.
We examine the relationship between corporate governance and the extent of corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosures in the annual reports of Bangladeshi companies. A legitimacy theory framework is adopted to understand the extent to which corporate governance characteristics, such as managerial ownership, public ownership, foreign ownership, board independence, CEO duality and presence of audit committee influence organisational response to various stakeholder groups. Our results suggest that although CSR disclosures generally have a negative association with managerial ownership, such relationship becomes significant and positive for export-oriented industries. We also find public ownership, foreign ownership, board independence and presence of audit committee to have positive significant impacts on CSR disclosures. However, we fail to find any significant impact of CEO duality. Thus, our results suggest that pressures exerted by external stakeholder groups and corporate governance mechanisms involving independent outsiders may allay some concerns relating to family influence on CSR disclosure practices. Overall, our study implies that corporate governance attributes play a vital role in ensuring organisational legitimacy through CSR disclosures. The findings of our study should be of interest to regulators and policy makers in countries which share similar corporate ownership and regulatory structures.
This article explores how the diversity of board resources and the number of women on boards affect firms' corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings, and how, in turn, CSR influences corporate reputation. In addition, this article examines whether CSR ratings mediate the relationships among board resource diversity, gender composition, and corporate reputation. The OLS regression results using lagged data for independent and control variables were statistically significant for the gender composition hypotheses, but not for the resource diversitybased hypotheses. CSR ratings had a positive impact on reputation and mediated the relationship between the number of women on the board and corporate reputation.
This review summarizes the research on ethical decision-making from 2004 to 2011. Eighty-four articles were published during this period, resulting in 357 findings. Individual findings are categorized by their application to individual variables, organizational variables, or the concept of moral intensity as developed by Jones (Acad Manag Rev 16(2):366–395, 1991). Rest's (Moral development: advances in research and theory, Praeger, New York, 1986) four-step model for ethical decision-making is used to summarize findings by dependent variable—awareness, intent, judgment, and behavior. A discussion of findings in each category is provided in order to uncover trends in the ethical decision-making literature. A summary of areas of suggested future research is provided.
In recent years, firms have greatly increased the amount of resources allocated to activities classified as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). While an increase in CSR expenditure may be consistent with firm value maximization if it is a response to changes in stakeholders' preferences, we argue that a firm's insiders (managers and large blockholders) may seek to overinvest in CSR for their private benefit to the extent that doing so improves their reputations as good global citizens and has a "warm-glow" effect. We test this hypothesis by investigating the relation between firms' CSR ratings and their ownership and capital structures. Employing a unique data set that categorizes the largest 3000 U. S. corporations as either socially responsible (SR) or socially irresponsible (SI), we find that on average, insiders' ownership and leverage are negatively related to the firm's social rating, while institutional ownership is uncorrelated with it. Assuming that higher CSR ratings is associated with higher CSR expenditure level, these results support our hypothesis that insiders induce firms to over-invest in CSR when they bear little of the cost of doing so.
This article explores how the diversity of board resources and the number of women on boards affect firms' corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings, and how, in turn, CSR influences corporate reputation In addition, this article examines whether CSR ratings mediate the relationships among board resource diversity, gender composition, and corporate reputation The OLS regression results using lagged data for independent and control variables were statistically significant for the gender composition hypotheses but not for the resource diversity-based hypotheses CSR ratings had a positive impact on reputation and mediated the relationship between the number of women on the board and corporate reputation
This study investigates the effects of internal and external corporate governance and monitoring mechanisms on the choice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement and the value of firms engaging in CSR activities. The study finds the CSR choice is positively associated with the internal and external corporate governance and monitoring mechanisms, including board leadership, board independence, institutional ownership, analyst following, and antitakeover provisions, after controlling for various firm characteristics. After correcting for endogeneity and simultaneity issues, the results show that CSR engagement positively influences firm value measured by industry-adjusted Tobin's q. We find that the impact of analyst following for firms that engage in CSR on firm value is strongly positive, while the board leadership, board independence, blockholders' ownership, and institutional ownership play a relatively weaker role in enhancing firm value. Furthermore, we find that CSR activities that address internal social enhancement within the firm, such as employees diversity, firm relationship with its employees, and product quality, enhance the value of firm more than other CSR subcategories for broader external social enhancement such as community relation and environmental concerns.
Green product innovation has been recognized as one of the key factors to achieve growth, environmental sustainability, and a better quality of life. Understanding green product innovation as a result of interaction between innovation and sustainability has become a strategic priority for theory and practice. This article investigates green product innovation by means of a multiple case study analysis of 12 small to medium size manufacturing companies based in Italy and Canada. First, we propose a conceptual framework that presents three key environmental dimensions of green product innovation such as energy minimization, materials reduction, and pollution prevention as identified in the life cycle phases of products. Based on insights gained from in-depth interviews, we discuss firms' motivations to develop green products, environmental policies and targets for products, different dimensions of green product innovation, and challenges faced during developing and marketing of green products. Results from the study are then synthesized and integrated in a toolbox that sheds light on various aspects of green product innovation and provides solutions to challenges and risks that are faced by firms. Finally, implications for managers, academia and public policy makers are discussed.
Despite their ethical intentions, ethically minded consumers rarely purchase ethical products (Auger and Devinney: 2007, Journal of Business Ethics 76, 361-383). This intentions-behaviour gap is important to researchers and industry, yet poorly understood (Belk et al.: 2005, Consumption, Markets and Culture 8(3), 275-289). In order to push the understanding of ethical consumption forward, we draw on what is known about the intention— behaviour gap from the social psychology and consumer behaviour literatures and apply these insights to ethical consumerism. We bring together three separate insights — implementation intentions (Gollwitzer: 1999, American Psychologist 54(7), 493-503), actual behavioural control (ABC) (Ajzen and Madden: 1986, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 22, 453-474; Sheeran et al.: 2003, Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 393-410) and situational context (SC) (Belk: 1975, Journal of Consumer Research 2, 157— 164) — to construct an integrated, holistic conceptual model of the intention— behaviour gap of ethically minded consumers. This holistic conceptual model addresses significant limitations within the ethical consumerism literature, and moves the understanding of ethical consumer behaviour forward. Further, the operationalisation of this model offers insight and strategic direction for marketing managers attempting to bridge the intention-behaviour gap of the ethically minded consumer.
Academic debate on the strategic importance of women corporate directors is widely recognized and still open. However, most corporate boards have only one woman director or a small minority of women directors. Therefore they can still be considered as tokens. This article addresses the following question: does an increased number of women corporate boards result in a build up of critical mass that substantially contributes to firm innovation? The aim is to test if 'at least three women' could constitute the desired critical mass by identifying different minorities of women directors (one woman, two women and at least three women). Tests are conducted on a sample of 317 Norwegian firms. The results suggest that attaining critical mass - going from one or two women (a few tokens) to at least three women (consistent minority) - makes it possible to enhance the level of firm innovation. Moreover, the results show that the relationship between the critical mass of women directors and the level of firm innovation is mediated by board strategic tasks. Implications for both theory and practice, and future research directions are discussed.
The burgeoning literature on global value chains (GVCs) has recast our understanding of how industrial clusters are shaped by their ties to the international economy, but within this context, the role played by corporate social responsibility (CSR) continues to evolve. New research in the past decade allows us to better understand how CSR is linked to industrial clusters and GVCs. With geographic production and trade patterns in many industries becoming concentrated in the global South, lead firms in GVCs have been under growing pressure to link economic and social upgrading in more integrated forms of CSR. This is leading to a confluence of “private governance” (corporate codes of conduct and monitoring), “social governance” (civil society pressure on business from labor organizations and non-governmental organizations), and “public governance” (government policies to support gains by labor groups and environmental activists). This new form of “synergistic governance” is illustrated with evidence from recent studies of GVCs and industrial clusters, as well as advances in theorizing about new patterns of governance in GVCs and clusters.
There is a distinct lack of research into the relationship between corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the banking sector. This paper fills the gap in the literature by examining the impact of corporate governance, with particular reference to the role of board of directors, on the quality of CSR disclosure in US listed banks' annual reports after the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. Using a sample of large US commercial banks for the period 2009–2011 and controlling for audit committee characteristics, board meeting frequency, and banks' profitability, size and risk, we find evidence that board independence and board size, the two board characteristics usually associated with the protection of shareholder interests, are positively related to CSR disclosure. This indicates that, with regard to CSR disclosure, more independent boards of directors and larger boards are the internal corporate governance mechanisms which promote both shareholders' and other stakeholders' interests. Contrary to our expectations, CEO duality also impacts positively on CSR disclosure. From an agency-theoretical viewpoint, this suggests that powerful CEOs may promote transparency about banks' CSR activities for their private benefits. While this could indicate that powerful CEOs are under particular pressure to appease stakeholders' concerns that they might abuse their power by providing a high degree of CSR disclosure, it could also be a sign of managerial risk aversion or managers' private reputational concerns.
This field study investigated the relationship between strategic human resource management, internal environmental concern, organizational citizenship behavior for the environment, and environmental performance. The originality of the present research was to link human resource management and environmental management in the Chinese context. Data consisted of 151 matched questionnaires from top management team members, chief executive officers, and frontline workers. The main results indicate that organizational citizenship behavior for the environment fully mediates the relationship between strategic human resource management and environmental performance, and that internal environmental concern moderates the effect of strategic human resource management on organizational citizenship behavior for the environment.
Based on the findings of a qualitative empirical study of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Swiss MNCs and SMEs, we suggest that smaller firms are not necessarily less advanced in organizing CSR than large firms. Results according to theoretically derived assessment frameworks illustrate the actual implementation status of CSR in organizational practices. We propose that small firms possess several organizational characteristics that are favorable for promoting the internal implementation of CSR-related practices in core business functions, but constrain external communication and reporting about CSR. In contrast, large firms possess several characteristics that are favorable for promoting external communication and reporting about CSR, but at the same time constrain internal implementation. We sketch a theoretical explanation of these differences in organizing CSR in MNCs and SMEs based on the relationship between firm size and relative organizational costs.
Review of extant research on the corporate environmental performance (CEP) and corporate financial performance (CFP) link generally demonstrates a positive relationship. However, some arguments and empirical results have demonstrated otherwise. As a result, researchers have called for a contingency approach to this research stream, which moves beyond the basic question "does it pay to be green?" and instead asks "when does it pay to be green?" In answering this call, we provide a meta-analytic review of CEP—CFP literature in which we identify potential moderators to the CEP—CFP relationship including environmental performance type (e.g., reactive vs. proactive performance), firm characteristics (e.g., large vs. small firms), and methodological issues (e.g., self-report measures). By analyzing these contingencies, this study attempts to provide a basis on which to draw conclusions regarding some inconsistencies and debates in the CEP—CFP research. Some of the results of the moderator analysis suggest that small firms benefit from environmental performance as much or more than large firms, US firms seem to benefit more than international counterparts, and environmental performance seems to have the strongest influence on market-measures of financial performance.
In 2009, Greenpeace launched an aggressive campaign against Nestlé, accusing the organization of driving rainforest deforestation through its palm oil suppliers. The objective was to damage the brand image of Nestlé and, thereby, force the organization to make its supply chain more sustainable. Prominent cases such as these have led to the prevailing view that sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is primarily reactive and propelled by external pressures. This research, in contrast, assumes that SSCM can contribute positively to the reputation of an organization as a "good citizen" and, thereby, counter the impression that external stakeholder pressure is the only driver of SSCM. The study draws on Resource Dependence Theory in analyzing the three competing models of the potential stakeholder, SSCM and the corporate sustainability performance relationship. A dataset of 1,621 organizations allows the statistical comparison of these three models. Findings suggest that stakeholder pressure and SSCM both contribute to an organization's sustainability performance. Thus, supply chain managers will perceive benefits from SSCM other than merely the reduction of risk from reputational damage through stakeholder activism.
The social dimension of sustainable development and its impact on supply chains have so far received less attention than the environmental dimension. The aim of the research is to explore the intersection between social issues, corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions and performance outcomes. A structured literature review of social issues in supply chains is presented, analysing the research published so far in peer-reviewed publications. Linking CSR and supply chain management allows the exploration of strategies and performance outcomes with a focus on social issues. The corresponding responsible supply chain actions adopted by firms to address these issues are grouped into communication, compliance and supplier development strategies. Social and economic as well as buyer and supplier performance are identified as the key outcomes, but the interactions among these constructs would require further research. This paper contributes to the understanding of managing social issues in supply chains by linking social issues, responsible supply chain actions and performance outcomes. The paper consolidates related research by offering an overarching conceptual framework and points to future research directions and simultaneously provides insights into the management of social issues in supply chains.