Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Understanding Firms' Corporate Social Activity Choice Decisions: A Conceptual Framework

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Understanding Firms' Corporate Social Activity Choice Decisions: A Conceptual Framework

Article excerpt


It has been long observed that firms make choices among corporate social activities. However there is limited research that shows how firms make those choice decisions and what factors determine the outcome. This paper intends to help fill the gap. Based on the insights from the literature review, the authors suggest a conceptual framework that identifies the factors that would drive a firm's corporate social activity choice. From these factors the authors advance research propositions that discuss the potential relationships with corporate social activity choice decisions, suggest methods and provide a questionnaire that could be a useful tool for further research. Further research can focus on the empirical validation of the suggested research framework and testing the propositions in the off-shoring/outsourcing context.

Keywords: CSR, CSR activity choice, CSR goals, CSR priorities, outsourcing; off-shoring

1. Introduction

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the "organization's obligation to maximize its positive impact and minimize its negative effects in being a contributing member to society, with concern for society's long-term needs and wants" (Lantos, 2001, p. 600). Furthermore the literature points out that those CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that cause harm in the public sphere, regardless of legality (Bomann-Larsen & Wiggen, 2004). However the last three decades have witnessed a lively debate over the role of corporations in society (Basu & Palazzo, 2008). A couple of decades ago Freeman & Liedtka, (1991) observed that the idea of corporate social responsibility has failed to help create the good society. Moreover several writers characterize CSR as less than successful at seriously addressing real issues of sustainable business practices (Porter & Kramer, 2006; Visser & Crane, 2010; Ludescher & Mahsud, 2010). While some of the criticisms are directed at the looseness and generality of the CSR concept, others blame the firm's ineffectiveness in identifying, prioritizing, and addressing the social issues that matter most. This paper deals with the latter criticism.

Hidden in the latter criticism are questions about how firms choose or prioritize one corporate social activity over the other and what factors matter most in their choices. CSR programs can be an effective way to achieve numerous environmental, social, stakeholder voluntarism and economic goals within a corporation (Dahalsrud 2006; Caroll 1979, 1991). But with so many approaches to CSR available, there is limited knowledge on how executives championing corporate social responsibility often prioritize and choose among CSR activities. Hence the paper intends to address three basic objectives:

1) To suggest a conceptual framework that identifies the possible goals/ factors that would drive a firm's corporate social activity choice decisions and examine and understand how firms choose or prioritize between CSR activities.

2) To advance research propositions that discusses the potential relationships between firms CSR goals and corporate social activity choice decisions.

3) To suggest a research method and a questionnaire useful for further research.

2. Literature Review

The intended conceptual framework focuses on corporate social activity prioritization and choice of offshoring/outsourcing firms in the United States. However the framework could also be adapted to countries in Western Europe (e.g., UK, France and Germany) where offshoring/outsourcing activities by local firms received negative review (Whitfield, 2007). While outsourcing refers to having work for a company done by another organization, offshoring refers specifically to having this work done for the company by another organization located in another country (Gupta et al., 2007). …

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