Corporate responsibility and sustainable competitive advantage in forest-based industry: Complementary or conflicting goals?
The growing public interest in and global consciousness of environmental and social issues have intensified pressures on forest industry companies in their efforts to effectively balance potentially conflicting stakeholder demands. In this paper, we conceptually analyze corporate responsibility (CR) in forest-based industry by theoretically differentiating between three approaches driving CR: the “trade-off” hypothesis, the “profit-maximizing” corporate responsibility conjecture, and the “corporate social impact” hypothesis. We use a survey of existing studies to assess the current stage of CR adoption in forest-based industry and to form a basis for evaluating the wider importance of CR in business, as well as to formulate hypotheses for future research. In conclusion, companies covered in previous research in this study appear to have adopted CR activities mainly with the profit-maximizing assumption. As the continued growth of ethical markets and socially responsible investment (SRI) presents both a threat and an opportunity for forest industry companies, a lasting case for CR in business could only be made by embracing CR principles with radical changes in the fundamental values, policy principles and operational procedures through double-loop organizational learning.
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