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Ó Springer 2008
Exploring the Nature of the Relationship Between CSR and Competitiveness
Marc Vilanova Josep Maria Lozano Daniel Arenas
ABSTRACT. This paper explores the nature of the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and competitiveness. We start with the commonly held view that firm competitiveness is defined by the market. That is, the question of what are the critical Marc Vilanova is currently researcher at the Institute for Social Innovation, ESADE Business School (URL), responsible for the Ethos CSR and Competitiveness project. He specializes in the issues of responsible competitiveness, responsible strategy, corporate social responsibility, organizational sustainability and accountability. He is also lecturer at the Social Sciences Department, teaching courses on responsible competitiveness at undergraduate, MBA and executive programs, as well as a consultant for public, private and third sector organizations. Josep M. Lozano is currently Professor and Senior Researcher in CSR at the Institute for Social Innovation, ESADE Busi´ ´ ness School (URL). Co-founder of Etica, Economıa y ´ Direccion (Spanish branch of EBEN), member of the international Editorial Board of Ethical Perspectives and Society and Business Review and member of the Business Ethics inter-faculty group of the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS). He has been a highly-commended runner-up in the European division of the Beyond Grey Pinstripes Faculty Pioneer Award (2003). Author of Ethics and Organizations. Understanding Business Ethics as a Learning Process (Kluwer, 2000) and co-author of Governments and Corporate Social Responsibility (2007). Daniel Arenas is Associate Professor at ESADE Business School-Universitat Ramon Llull, where he teaches Business Ethics, CSR and sociology. He is the Head of Research of the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE and a member of the management committee of the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS). He has recently co-authored the article ‘‘Do employees care about CSR Programs? A typology of employees according to their attitudes’’ (Journal of Business Ethics) and the book ‘‘Tras la RSE: La responsabilidad social de la empresa en Espana vista por sus actores’’ ˜ (Barcelona: Granica, 2007).
competitiveness factors is answered by looking at how companies and financial analysts describe and evaluate a firm. To analyze this, we review the current state of the art on the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. Second, CSR criteria used by financial analysts is identified and compared with company valuation methods. Third, the results of a multi-stakeholder dialogue on CSR and competitiveness of the European financial sector are presented. As a conclusion, we argue that CSR and competitiveness relate through a learning and innovation cycle, where corporate values, policies and practices are permanently defined and re-defined. Thus, we propose that learning takes place as CSR is embedded in business processes, and that once it has been integrated, in turn, it generates innovative practices, and finally, competitiveness. At the end of the paper, we propose that CSR in practice consists of managing inherent paradoxes generated by the tension between CSR and business policies. KEY WORDS: competitiveness, responsible competitiveness, corporate reputation, corporate social responsibility, organizational strategy, paradox
Introduction Corporate social responsibility (hereinafter CSR) has become one of the central issues on the agenda of organizations today, but is still a long way from being a centre stage on corporate strategy (Smith, 2003; Stewart, 2006). One of the key problems is the lack of understanding about the impact CSR has on competitiveness (Porter and Kramer, 2006). There are many studies trying to analyze the relationship between CSR and ﬁnancial performance (Chand and Fraser, 2006; McWilliams and Siegel, 2001), proposing a business case for CSR (Cramer et al., 2006; Smith, 2003) or providing case studies on
. CSR can be deﬁned as the voluntary integration of social and environmental concerns in to business operations and in to their interaction with stakeholders (European Commission. 2000. 1996). Sethi. including labour practices and human rights issues (European Commission. Sison. Jones and Wicks. governance. ethical codes. 2006. Jones. corporate philanthropy and community action (Freeman. 2002.. Valor. 1984. 1994. 2002). In research and theory building. Hess et al. 2006). how can this be carried out from a strategic perspective (Porter and Kramer. we propose that this learning process consists of managing inherent paradoxes generated by the tensions between CSR and business policies. CSR is approached from different perspectives. Freeman. social contract (Donaldson and Dunfee. fragmented and not always congruent (Carroll. 1995. we argue that CSR and competitiveness relate through a learning and innovation cycle. including collaborations and partnerships with different stakeholders. The problem with that deﬁnition is that no widely accepted integrated framework exists (Jones. Windsor. 2007. 1996. including CSR conceptual development within the organization. we propose that CSR issues can be grouped in ﬁve dimensions: (1) Vision. business ethics (Solomon. we review the current state of the art on the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. 1999). corporate governance (Freeman and Evans. 1995) to clarify which are the social and environmental concerns. Humble et al. Porter and Van der Linde. Frooman. The ﬁve dimensions of CSR. stakeholder management (Donaldson and Preston. 2002. 2002). 2000). and ﬁnally. the question of what are the critical competitiveness factors is answered by looking at how companies and ﬁnancial analysts describe and evaluate a ﬁrm. policies and practices are permanently deﬁned and redeﬁned. how can a company integrate them in its operations and relationship with its stakeholders and most importantly. 2005). it generates innovative CSR practices. However. That is. 2002). CSR criteria used by ﬁnancial analysts is identiﬁed and compared with company valuation methods. 1999. we start with the commonly held view that ﬁrm competitiveness is deﬁned by the market. Third. 1995. 1995). in turn. 2003. values and reputation (Carter et al. 1995. ﬁnancial performance or smart practices don’t automatically imply longterm competitiveness (Porter and Kramer. 1999. we propose that learning takes place as CSR is embedded in business processes. (2) Community relations.. Source: Marc Vilanova 2007. 2000. Zadek. Although current CSR frameworks are diverse. and that once it has been integrated. International CSR practices (Gueterbok. such as social performance (Carroll. The bottom line is that there seems to be a connection between CSR and competitiveness. United Nations Global Compact. Goodpaster. 1993). corporate citizenship (Waddock. but as shown in Figure 1. 1979.. 1999. but the nature of the relationship is unclear (Mackey et al.. the results of a multi-stakeholder dialogue on CSR and competitiveness of the European ﬁnancial sector are presented. Second. 2001. Lozano. 1975). 2004.58 Marc Vilanova et al. n sio Vi lace Co m re mu lat ni ion ty s W W ork plac e ketp Mar CSR Accountability Figure 1. 2002. 2002). This paper aims to shed some light on the nature of the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. To analyze this. At the end of the paper. Smith. As a conclusion. 1999. 1998. where corporate values. CSR initiatives use different nomenclatures. 1980. 1990). 1980. 2000. Van De Ven and Jeurissen. Swanson. accountability (Elkington. 2001). (3) Workplace. 2003). Defining corporate social responsibility CSR is one of the frames of reference that tries to shed light on the role business should play in society (Carroll. To that end. classiﬁcations and deﬁnitions. Freeman. 1983. Jones. 2005) or bottom of the pyramid (Prahalad and Hammond. competitiveness. Thus. 1999. OECD. 2001). Grey. Joyner and Payne. Pruzan. Robertson and Nicholson.
competitiveness must account for more dynamic ﬁrm capabilities such as ﬂexibility.. In general terms. 2001). understanding competitiveness not solely as productivity. marketing or investment (Consumers International. (b) key internal and external relationships. Smith. 59 Defining competitiveness Competitiveness is a multidimensional concept that can be used at country. Hess et al. 2006). reputation or talent (Lowell. 2007). Porter and Kramer. 2006. including products and services as well as management processes (Mintzberg. 1998). 1995). In sum. However. there are some commonly accepted indicators that quantify and qualify competitiveness by different dimensions (Budd and Hirmis. some authors argue that in many cases CSR has not been more than a cosmetic effort on the part of companies to respond to societal demands (Porter and Kramer. Porter and Kramer. 1991). growth or proﬁtability (Hamel and Prahalad. 1989). 2006. but as shown in Figure 2. That is. One of the key management questions in that debate is whether implementing CSR affects ﬁrm competitiveness (Chand and Fraser. (4) Innovation. there are many competitiveness deﬁnitions. one of the key issues in the current CSR agenda is the debate between cosmetic and strategic approaches to CSR. Already in 1993. 1999). 2000. 1998. 2006). for which there are no agreed frameworks or measurements for competitiveness (Draper. 2006. 2002. 2003. adaptability. Schnietz and Epstein. Haigh and Jones. 1991). At a country level. where many companies seem to approach CSR solely from a reputation perspective. Many authors have suggested that competitiveness is indeed one of the key drivers for adopting a CSR approach (Bansal and Roth. but the nature of the relationship between CSR and competitiveness is still unclear (Porter and Kramer. as a recent report from McKinsey suggests. 1985). 2007. (4) Accountability. Sum and Ngai. 2006. Porter. 2003. Whetten et al. However. 2006. 2006). Haigh and Jones. 2002. That is. 1992). including corporate transparency. Fan. 2004. Traditionally. competitiveness is described as the strength of an organization in comparison with its competitors (Murths and Lenway. 2005. (2) Quality. 2004). while CSR is presented in theory as a central business issue that has profound and widespread impact on most business operations (Ayuso et al. Juholin. In that context. 2002) and (5) Marketplace. reporting and communication (Elkington. pricing. produce and/or market products superior to those offered by competitors. including corporate branding in terms of building trust and . 2004. 1989). 2001). McWilliams and Siegel. 1998. relationships.Exploring the Nature of the Relationship Between CSR and Competitiveness Labor Organization. industry and ﬁrm levels (Ambastha and Momaya. 1993). we propose that they can be grouped on ﬁve key dimensions: (1) Performance. including standard ﬁnancial measures such as earnings. Global Reporting Initiative. frameworks and proposals (Ambastha and Monaya. John Kay described ﬁrm competitiveness in terms of four factors: (a) the capacity to innovate. 2006). (c) reputation and (d) strategic assets (Kay. Carlisle and Faulkner. 1985). The same is not true at a sector or organizational level. 2001). 2006. 2006. many authors have considered productivity as a good indicator of competitiveness at a ﬁrm level (Porter. Whetten et al. including CSR practices directly related to core business activities such as research and development. Harrison and Freeman. 1993) and (5) Image. this perspective of using systems based on tangible performance measurement is inadequate as it does not take into account key competitiveness generating resources in the form of intangible capital such as knowledge. but as the ability of a company to design. (3) Productivity. producing several benchmarks such as the Global Competitiveness Report (World Economic Forum. 2006). fair competition. CSR proponents argue that ﬁrms should interpret and apply issues included in our ﬁve dimensions of CSR within their respective organizational contexts (Jones and Wicks... Porter and Van Der Linde. considering the price and non-price qualities (D’Cruz and Rugman. 2004). in terms of higher production and lower use of resources (Porter. Handy. quality or marketing (Barney. 2007) or the World Competitiveness Yearbook (IMD. Draper. Zadek.. 1999. not only of products and services. the competitiveness framework has broadened to account for the key tangible and intangible resources that provide a competitive advantage to the ﬁrm (Hamel and Prahalad. 2005). 2005. but also the capacity to satisfy customer expectations (Barney. 2005.
2005. McWilliams and Siegel. 2007). However. competitiveness and strategy Literature on CSR and competitiveness is rare. Porter and Kramer. CSR. evaluating CSR as a risk on key competitiveness variables such as reputation and image (Carlisle and Faulkner. 2007) or human rights (Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. that evaluate companies according to different issues. there seem to be a growing number of other aspects considered just as determinant to competitiveness as these ﬁve. 1998) argued that competitiveness at a ﬁrm level is deﬁned or limited by ﬁve forces of competition. 1998) argued that a ﬁrm P P P ro o o duc t u ti u ti ivity it it . 2004. some of the key determinants to ﬁrm competitiveness centre on issues such as brand equity. as we can see in Table I. 1993). companies ranked at the top in each of these indexes differ. for instance. namely (1) threat of new entrants. although results are inconclusive (Chand and Fraser. although these ﬁve factors are certainly important. 2004). reputation (Reputation Institute. For instance. such as generating a competitive advantage for the ﬁrm through creating stakeholder value (Freeman. but the nature of the relationship is unclear. and do not necessarily correspond to more traditional measures of competitiveness such as sales or market growth. through sustainability reports. we realized that most of them claim to have a strong commitment to CSR and/or corporate citizenship. 1997. the few that do not have speciﬁc CSR strategies. which conclude that embracing CSR contributes to both short-term proﬁts and long-term competitiveness (Gueterbok. human rights and sustainability values are deeply embedded in the core identity of the organization and are therefore integrated in most business processes. reputation in the relationship with stakeholders (Kay. to name a few. (2) bargaining power of suppliers. works in a sector with large barriers to entry and with no strong substitute products embodies the deﬁnition of a competitive ﬁrm. a ﬁrm that has a large market share and strong power over its suppliers and costumers. most companies ranked at the top claim substantial and comprehensive CSR strategies and policies. such as Google. 2005) or producing case studies. 1984). (3) bargaining power of costumers. The issue then is what sort of strategies or policies can companies pursue to develop CSR that effectively strengthens or reinforces such competitiveness factors. There are many rankings. In other words. 2007). Pe ce an rm rfo Qu ali ty ge Im a Competi tiveness Innovation Figure 2. argue that CSR. as ﬁnancial performance or ﬁrm value may not automatically imply long-term competitiveness (McWilliams and Siegel. workplace relations (Great Place to Work Institute. 2006). (4) threat of substitute products and services and (5) strength of the ﬁrm against current competitors. and certainly not explicitly included among Porter’s ﬁve forces of the competitiveness model (Porter. The ﬁve dimensions of competitiveness. such as capacity to innovate (Business Week. What is relevant is that many of these issues are intangibles not measured or accounted traditionally. 2007). Although. Most studies on the relationship between competitiveness and CSR have centred on trying to prove that there is a positive association between CSR and ﬁnancial performance (Grifﬁn and Mahon. Other authors have proposed alternative approaches. reputation or innovation. 2007). Schnietz and Epstein. 2007). governance issues and environmental policies. according to Porter. Thus. accountability (Fortune. Porter (1980. codes of conduct. brand equity (Business Week. 1985. 1985). although it has grown exponentially in the past few years.60 Marc Vilanova et al. Source: Marc Vilanova 2007. 2001. 1985. and that these issues are strongly inﬂuenced by CSR. 2005). 2006. The bottom line is that there seems to be a connection between CSR and competitiveness. upon analyzing the websites of the top 25 most innovative companies in the world according to Business Week (2007). Van De Ven and Jeurissen. On the other hand. Porter (1980. 2001). Juholin.
confront and respond to unexpected changes in the market and the context. 2000). In that regard. Mintzberg (1987. Fan. 1998). to plan resource allocation and actions for long-term strategies. 2001. communication and reporting practices (Elkington. 1984. Kay. proposed that ﬁrms should adopt strategies focussed on establishing solid long-term corporate visions. Most current proposals for CSR seem to align with Mintberg’s concept of emergent strategies (Mintzberg. 1993). on the other hand. 2007) 61 Source: Vilanova (2007). the understanding of the competitive environment. where the ﬁrm would focus on differentiating from competitors on product and/or services and (c) focus strategies. 2007) Sample of world company rankings TABLE I Apple Google Toyota General Electric Microsoft Procter & Gamble 3M Walt Disney IBM Sony Coca-Cola Microsoft IBM General Electric Nokia Toyota Intel McDonald’s Disney Mercedes-Benz BP Barclays ENI HSBC Vodafone Shell Peugeot HBOS Chevron DaimlerChrysler Johnson & Johnson Coca-Cola Google UPS 3M Sony Microsoft General Mills Fedex Intel Wal Mart Exxon Mobil Shell BP General Motors Daimles Chrisler Chevron Toyota Total Coneco Philips Valuating companies Company valuation is how the market currently tries to measure and deﬁne the competitiveness of a given company. where the ﬁrm would reduce costs to be price competitive. but leaving ﬂexibility for the speciﬁcs of daily operations to adapt. 2007) Reputation corporate ranking (Reputation Institute. 2005) Most ‘‘accountable’’ companies (Fortune. 2005. Mintzberg suggested companies should aim at building institutional capacities and competencies. 1999. information. and the image and reputation of the company which is built on transparency. 1988). as they propose vision-centred approaches instrumented through developing institutional capacities (Pruzan. Harrison and Freeman. integrating CSR in the strategic management process can contribute to implement a successful strategy in the ﬁrm insofar as it can help to develop simple and consistent long-term goals. regardless of whether the valuation is . Freeman. That is. so that they have the resources to understand. Also. assisting in the development of capacities and resources to learn and change as an organization contributes to implement a successful strategy in the ﬁrm (Grant. (b) differentiation.Exploring the Nature of the Relationship Between CSR and Competitiveness Exxon Mobil General Electric Microsoft Citigroup AT&T Bank of America Toyota Gazprom Petrochina Shell Market value (Forbes. could develop its competitiveness by adopting three possible strategies: (a) cost leadership. 1993). 1987). 2007) Highest brand equity (Business Week. Instead. Mintzberg argued that it is almost impossible to properly anticipate future events. where the company would focus on speciﬁc products and/or services in which it enjoys a competitive advantage. and thus. 2007) Most innovative companies (Business Week. Robin and Reidenbach. 1995. Sales (Forbes. improving the understanding of the complexity of a competitive environment. the success of the company is highly dependent on the relationship with its key stakeholders and its reputation (Donaldson and Lee.
(3) what is the relationship between CSR and ﬁrm competitiveness? and (4) how can the ﬁnancial sector contribute to further the CSR agenda? The ﬁrst conclusion from the focus group with practitioners from the European ﬁnancial sector was that there is a clear connection between CSR and competitiveness. The most widely used valuation methods can be grouped in: (a) balance sheet-based methods. NGOs and academics. equity funds. they accounted or touched upon many of them indirectly. both from its role as an investor as well as an analyst. productivity. the work of these analysts took into account some issues related to the ﬁve dimensions of competitiveness presented in Figure 2 (i. Thus. nor does it have accepted indicators across different analysts. including its intangible assets through trying to quantify future earnings and (d) cash ﬂow discounting-based methods. aside from standard ﬁnancial.. Thus. none of these methods include explicit or direct measures of CSR. risks. brand equity and internal and external relationships. the most widely used valuation method seems to be the cash ﬂow discounting-based methods and the goodwill-based methods (Brealey and Myers. in September 2006. which seek to determine the value of the company. sales or other similar indicators. 2000). which seek to determine the company’s value by estimating the cash ﬂows it will generate in the future and then discounting them at a discount rate taking into account risks (Fernandez. surprisingly a signiﬁcant portion of valuations and recommendations seems to be based on the opinion and expertise of the analyst performing the valuation. That is. speciﬁcally in terms of non-tangible issues such as corporate reputation. through aspects such as management adaptability. the literature recommends valuation methods that focus on anticipating future earnings or future behaviour.e. policies or advocacy. public organisms. In fact. but it is nevertheless very much considered as a transversal issue. (b) income statement-based methods. insurance companies.. but that it is not made explicit. think tanks. Furthermore. in all cases. we invited 35 senior ofﬁcers representing most relevant stakeholder groups of the European ﬁnancial sector to a full-day research focus group centred on the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. 2002). all valuations included an in-depth qualitative analysis of intangibles. performance. (2) what are the difﬁculties in implementing CSR strategies?. The objective of the focus group was to analyze four key issues: (1) what does CSR mean for the ﬁnancial sector?. In that regard. (c) mixed or goodwill-based methods. we found some measures pertaining to all four valuation methods. and that this connection usually . For this reason. rather than on objective ratios and measurements. forecasts. and thus determining what are the key competitiveness issues for corporations. 2000. although they did not take explicitly into account any of the ﬁve CSR dimensions presented in Figure 1. CSR is not considered a speciﬁc topic of evaluation by ﬁnancial analysts. core competencies. Fernandez. case study.62 Marc Vilanova et al. standardized or quantiﬁed. Copeland et al. demanding and deﬁning how a ﬁrm should be valued. As a ﬁrst conclusion. Analysis. innovation and image/reputation). 2002). potential for partnerships. Furthermore. carried out for buying or selling operations. if we accept that ﬁrm valuation is an indicator of ﬁrm competitiveness. our analysis of valuation methods used by different ﬁnancial analysts shows that there is a certain relationship between CSR and competitiveness. regulatory agencies. quality. Some participants had some responsibilities in terms of CSR (or sustainability) strategies. Banco Espirito Santo and Cowen & Co. These measurements or valuations of intangibles indirectly accounted for some CSR issues. we found that most ﬁnancial analysts don’t use a single method. industry associations. performance and stock ratios. 2000. strategy or government actions among others. aimed at anticipating stock market behaviour of listed companies or for strategic reﬂection and planning (Copeland et al. but take ratios and measures from different ones. which seek to determine the value of the company through the size of its earnings. which included banks. We compared this with valuation methods used by ﬁnancial analysts at several ﬁrms such as ABN Amro. governance. That is. Nevertheless. labour unions. Currently. Participants were senior managers in their respective organizations. which seek to determine the company’s value by estimating the value of its assets. framework and paradoxes The ﬁnancial sector seems to be the most critical actor in shaping markets.
adopting a CSR strategy has an impact on identity and branding. usually after a speciﬁc reputation or image scandal or conﬂict. incentives and company innovation. regula- 63 tion. transparency. by developing some international frameworks that provide guidelines for investment in terms of social and environmental issues. many companies seem to treat the relationship between CSR and competitiveness as a starting assumption. which has a direct impact on competitiveness as it forces sustainable development in corporate vision through corporate strategy (Mintzberg. such as the Equator Principles (International Finance Corporation. 1993). and reputation. improves the understanding of the complexity of the competitive environment and strengthens relationships with key stakeholders through stakeholder management (Donaldson and Preston. (b) stakeholder management and (3) accountability. In that regard. NGOs and other civil society organizations also seem to focus on corporate image and reputation as leverage to force corporate change towards implementing CSR. such as establishing CSR performance indicators. regardless of how CSR policies originated. acting as a fundamental driver to initiate. stakeholder engagement and management. 1993). in determining ﬁrm competitiveness. such as changing the corporate mission. 1984. the participants from the European ﬁnancial sector concluded that the future drivers for CSR will focus on stakeholder demand. or generating new products and services. That is.Exploring the Nature of the Relationship Between CSR and Competitiveness begins with issues of image and reputation. it is rarely measured or evaluated because there is a lack of a common framework for both CSR and competitiveness. between CSR and competitiveness in terms of core business practices. As shown in Figure 3. Framework connecting CSR and competitiveness Results from our analysis of valuation methods used by ﬁnancial analysts and the focus group by practitioners/stakeholders from the European ﬁnancial sector apparently propose a connection. as NGOs do not have the resources. Source: Marc Vilanova 2007. education. Another important ﬁnding was that CSR apparently lacks organizational leadership to guide the process. Kay. participants agreed that one of the main barriers for managing and developing CSR in the future seems to be the difﬁculty in aligning current business processes with CSR and sustainability objectives. Furthermore. participants agreed that the ﬁnancial sector had already begun assuming its role as a key actor in shaping markets. CSR and competitiveness framework. it can provoke some unexpected transformations in terms of business values and processes. and improves the transparency of the Learning Strategy Image Reputation CSR Branding Stakeholder Competitiveness Accountability Identity Innovation Figure 3. That is. develop and embed a CSR strategy in an organization (Haigh and Jones. . results show that image and reputation are part of the framework linking CSR and competitiveness. A third important conclusion was that although CSR is considered very critical for companies as ‘‘a license to operate’’. we propose that image and reputation make the connection between CSR and competitiveness through three management processes: (a) strategy. most companies seem to adopt CSR approaches as a reactive. 2006). In that regard. 1987. as one of the participants expressed it. Furthermore. rather than proactive strategy. and labour unions. In that regard. To that end. The second conclusion presented by corporate managers was that once CSR was accepted internally by companies. practitioners from the European ﬁnancial sector propose that CSR impacts ﬁrm competitiveness mainly through the strategic reﬂection process. 1995. public organizations do not want the responsibility and business do not have the legitimacy. 2005) whose signatories currently manage in excess of US$ 10 trillion. Freeman. although indirect. and therefore. CSR managers from companies seem to use corporate reputation as the key driver to sell and embed CSR internally in the organizations. branding and accountability. Finally. 2003) or the Principles for Responsible Investment (UNEPFI. at least initially. identifying risks.
Joyner and Payne. 1990). The bottom line is that a paradox represents the choice-dilemma between two poles. 1993. 1994. 1994). Epstein. effectively implementing CSR in a corporate context involves managing organizational and inherent CSR paradoxes (Calton and Payne. 1991. 2007). 2003. processes and practices (Goss et al. In other words. For many years. Thus. Lewis (2000) deﬁnes paradox as something that denotes contradictory yet interwoven elements that seem logical in isolation but absurd and irrational when appearing simultaneously. 2002. while the company’s strategies and practices constantly adapt to a changing world (Collins and Porras. 1987. but there has been virtually no empirical research on how such paradoxes are identiﬁed and managed in organizations (Calton and Payne. The concept of paradox is emerging as a subject of empirical study in the management ﬁeld (Ospina and Saz-Carranza. each of which is arguably favourable. 1993. That is. paradoxes represent tensions between well-founded and supported alternative explanations of the same phenomenon that present a puzzle (Pool and Van de Ven.. However. Freeman. Pruzan. reputation and image generate opportunities for innovation within organizations in terms of corporate branding. Pruzan. feel or do things differently.64 Marc Vilanova et al. 2005). Goss et al. 2005). 1990). 1994. 2005. 2005) as well as one of the key issues in risk management (Van De Ven and Jeurissen. understanding competencies and awareness and grasping Inherent CSR paradoxes One of the main reasons CSR frameworks seem to be ineffective in practice is that they don’t take into account the paradoxes of CSR (Goodpaster. Mintzberg. 1993). 2001). Moreover. all its members must start to think. Clegg et al. 1999. 1983. 2005). so that a corporate identity based on clear objectives and values is established. 2001). 2006. 1996. Handy. 1984. since choosing one pole means not choosing the other (Saz-Carranza. 2006. 1990) and (2) paradoxes inherent to CSR that are generated by opposing or conﬂicting goals. deﬁning the role of companies in society from a CSR standpoint involves putting vision. to effect change in an organization. 1991. Pettigrew. Solomon. Stansbury and Barry. . Handy. reputation acts as a fundamental driver to implement CSR as it is currently an accepted and valued intangible asset (Schnietz and Epstein.. 2000. CSR paradoxes take two forms: (1) organizational paradoxes that arise from opposing CSR and business goals. Goodpaster. which in turn. the issue is not how to adopt a determined management strategy but rather how to integrate CSR in the vision of the company. Handy. 2007. reputation becomes a driver not only to initiate CSR approaches in ﬁrms. understanding and processes at the core of corporate practices (Cramer et al. 2002. That is. Within organizational studies. Mintzberg. In that context. Pruzan and Thyseen. which is not so much about modifying current policies and processes as it is about creating new ones (Epstein. values and processes within CSR frameworks (Elkington. 2002. Joyner and Payne. creating a normative framework and legal framework for action in CSR concerns the development of social responsibility in organizations as a learning and innovation process: exploring. Lewis. 1996. Mintzberg. Therefore. McWilliams and Siegel. Gray and Clarke. 2001.. Korhonen. Pruzan. 1987. Poole and Van de Ven. 1989). 1998. so change management becomes an issue if one want to manage a learning and innovation dynamic (Pettigrew 1985. Pava and Krausz. 2003. The objective from a company perspective when adopting a CSR strategy is to establish a normative framework. Pruzan and Thyssen. 2001). 1993). build corporate reputation. the policy framework and additional factors involved in learning how to become socially responsible and being able to entertain new business policies. 2001.. 1990). 1998. thus allowing managers to create CSR sound approaches to business and make them work (Jones and Wicks. literature has identiﬁed paradoxes as a key issue in embedding CSR into an organization. Goodpaster. Thus. values and processes (Handy. 1993. 2005). documenting. the type of change necessary for CSR requires reinventing the organization. 1989). Valor. Finally. 2002. 1993. but also to drive the process inside the company. and determining success factors. image and identity (Fan. Turcotte and Pasquero. organization through accountability management processes (Elkington.
Frooman. 2007). 1991. Freeman and Evan. 2001). Clarke and Gray. we propose that the ﬁrst three are inherent paradoxes to CSR. 2002. Furthermore. 1991). The accountability paradox represents the dispersion/ centrality of accountability processes (Elkington. values. Pruzan. Korhonen. as is based on processes of strategic reﬂection and implementation. The strategy paradox represents the convergence/ divergence of business mission.Exploring the Nature of the Relationship Between CSR and Competitiveness There are some studies that suggest that paradoxes are particularly relevant in the ﬁeld of business in society (Handy. (b) the stakeholder paradox. 1991. 1990. 2005. is an organizational paradox in that it illustrates the tension between CSR and existing business practices in organizations that are driven by competitiveness (Ambastha and Momaya. Korhonen. particularly when facing investment. processes and practices contradictory to company mission and existing business activities (Goodpaster. (c) the accountability paradox and (d) the competitiveness paradox. In that regard. 1986. as they illustrate tensions between opposing approaches in CSR. 2006). judge and determine what variables are critical to ﬁrm competitiveness reﬂects one of the problems with the current management ﬁeld. 2005. 2003. Conclusions Many practitioners argue that CSR will become a truly strategic business issue when the ﬁnancial sector in general and ﬁnancial analysts in particular broadly use CSR criteria to evaluate ﬁrms. The stakeholder paradox lies in the concept that increasing the diversity of stakeholder effectively decreases the capacity to control and manage the stakeholder process. 2007. Calton and Payne. 1989. Joyner and Payne. The competitiveness paradox. Goodpaster. 1998. 2001). as the market structure and business systems naturally constrain the forms and extent of CSR approaches (Sum and Ngai. We propose that the fact that the ﬁnancial sector and ﬁnancial analysts deﬁne. 1995. The competitiveness paradox represents the business/ responsibility of corporate practices (Handy. 1999. which creates difﬁculties for understanding and managing the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. Stansbury and Barry. we propose that reputation is a key driver in framing and embedding CSR in corporate strategy. Turcotte and Pasquero. we should centre on framing and interpreting how . Furthermore. Zadeck 2001). We propose that there are four paradoxes particularly relevant to the topic of how CSR is implemented and managed: (a) the strategy paradox. Thus. Goodpaster. including focussing on company objectives (Donaldson and Preston. at least simultaneously. on the other hand. 2006. 2005. 2002). one of the key issues in implementing CSR seems to be the tensions involved in integrating and embedding CSR in the vision and activities at the core of corporate practices (Porter and Kramer. 2004). 2001). Current management practices. Stansbury and Barry. stakeholder management and accountability. The accountability paradox lies in the notion that the more the company aims to be transparent and dialogue through different communication channels with its stakeholders. so that the debate should not be about reputation or competitiveness. 2005. 2006. so that the broader corporate objectives and missions are. Jones. but also the more difﬁcult and impractical become to measure and manage (Cameron. but rather on how to best use reputation as a driver to embed CSR in core business processes that have a direct impact on competitiveness. the more it looses the capacity to transmit a coherent and central message about the company and its vision (Carlisle and Faulkner. 2006). we argue that to explain the nature of the relationship between CSR and competitiveness. Korhonen. This paradox illustrates the tension between responsible and business decisions. The convergence/divergence paradox lies in the notion that both processes are not compatible. Goodpaster. vision and objectives when embracing CSR in an organization (Cameron. 1994). 2005). That is. the easier and simpler it is to include concepts such as CSR and how they affect long-term ﬁrm competitiveness. Turcotte and Pasquero. 1995. Clarke and Gray. 65 Gray and Clarke. 1991. The paradox lies in the notion that embracing key CSR policies effectively reduces certain competitive advantages. 1986. are based on outputs rather than processes. particularly in the ﬁeld of CSR. The stakeholder paradox represents the unity/ diversity of goals and objectives among different stakeholders (Aram. although it strengthens other competitive factors. adopting CSR may generate goals.
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