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CSR and financial performance: complementarity between environmental, social and business behaviours


  • Sandra Cavaco
  • Patricia Crifo


This article analyses the interactions between various dimensions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) that mediate the relationship between CSR and financial performance. We hypothesize that the absence of consensus in the empirical literature on the CSR-financial performance relationship may be explained by the existence of synergies (complementarity) and trade-offs (substitutability) between the different CSR components. We investigate such relationship using a final unbalanced panel sample of 1094 observations (around 300 firms per year) from 15 countries over the 2002-2007 period. Our results show that responsible behaviours towards employees (human resources dimension) and towards customers and suppliers (business behaviour dimension) appear as complementary inputs of financial performance, indicating mutual benefits and less conflict between those stakeholders. Conversely, responsible behaviours towards customers and suppliers and towards the environment appear as substitutable inputs of financial performance, suggesting more conflict between or over-investment towards those stakeholders.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra Cavaco & Patricia Crifo, 2014. "CSR and financial performance: complementarity between environmental, social and business behaviours," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(27), pages 3323-3338, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:46:y:2014:i:27:p:3323-3338
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2014.927572

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