Academic journal article Global Journal of Business Research

A Conceptual Framework of Corporate Social Responsibility and Innovation

Academic journal article Global Journal of Business Research

A Conceptual Framework of Corporate Social Responsibility and Innovation

Article excerpt


Innovation and sustainable development are major contemporary issues. Innovation represents an important tool for achieving corporate social responsibility while sustainable development is a challenge for business and emphasises the direction that innovation activities can take. The objective of this contribution is to specify innovation and social responsibility outlines and to propose a conceptual framework of their complementarity in a small and medium enterprise perspective. This approach enables us to reflect on the role of innovation in responsible entrepreneurs hip by illustrating a scheme which brings together these concepts in an integrated approach.

JEL: M10, M14, O32

KEYWORDS: Sustainability, CSR, Innovation, Small business


The problem of sustainable development is not new. In 1987, the Commission of the United Nations, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, redefined the concept of ecodevelopment, now called sustainable development (Mathieu, 2005). Sustainable development has proved to be a way of responding to socio-economic and ecological crises of development in economies and society as well as to new needs that may arise. The problem of sustainable development was integrated into the microeconomics sphere and has been associated with smaller organizations such as enterprises (Mathieu, 2005). After large enterprises, SMEs became more aware of the impact their activities could have on sustainable development (CIDD, 2006; Spence et al., 2007). Many scientific and public communications on corporate social responsibility show interest in sustainable development and highlight the benefits of sustainable strategies (Quairel and Auberger, 2005).

On the other hand, companies also became aware of the utility of good innovation management which can allow them to strengthen their position in their market (Thouvenin, 2002; Tidd et al., 2006). Many managers are confronted with the necessity of developing new technologies, new products or new organizations. By being innovative, these businesses would be more suitable to meet the needs of new competitiveness (Carrier and Garand, 1996; Hoffman et al., 1998).

Having recognized the benefits of innovation for the business, it seems the innovation approach can be associated with that of corporate social responsibility (CSR). These two problems can be complementary in an organization. Thus, sustainable development can offer business opportunities and numerous occasions to innovate (EC, 2007; CST, 2001). Furthermore, sustainable development can introduce numerous improvements in the modes of consumption, production and organization (CST, 2001).

The literature on innovation, sustainable development and CSR is abundant and varied, underlining the interest they have excited over several years (Carrier et Garand, 1996; Laville, 2009). Regarding the complementarity of innovation and CSR activities, there is little work on their interaction, on how innovation can support CSR, in particular, far as SMEs are concerned (Mendibil et al., 2007).

This contribution thus has as its objective to suggest a first review of the literature in order to highlight the complementarity of research issues on CSR and innovation. It also aims at identifying their main characteristics in a context of the SME. We present a conceptual framework adapted to considerations of this double issue.

To begin, we define the small and medium-sized enterprise and shall precisely identify its specifics. We analyse the field of CSR and the stakeholder theory. We also show the central role of the manager in an SME as well as its sustainable commitment through the theory of planned behavior. Next, we develop the concept of innovation and the conditions in which it can facilitate and promote CSR. On this basis, we introduce a conceptual framework based on some theoretical and empirical research that will help us understand the role of innovation in responsible entrepreneurship as well as its implementation better. …

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