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The convergence of corporate social responsibility practices

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  • Misani, Nicola

Abstract

Purpose – This paper tries to explain why many socially-responsible firms appear to converge on a standard set of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices instead of striving to differentiate themselves from rivals and achieve competitive advantage. Design/methodology/approach – Three explanations of this convergence are presented: herd behaviour, institutional isomorphism, and strategic cooperation. The different empirical predictions of these theories are laid down. The resulting framework is used to analyse a recent self-regulatory scheme launched by the steel industry, in which knowledge-sharing was used to stimulate poor performers to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Findings – Social practices of firms are very often driven by pressures to conform, instead of pressures to perform. Even firms that want to be innovative may be forced by stakeholder requests to adopt passive and imitative behaviour. Practical implications – The paper suggests that there are two types of CSR – convergent and divergent – and that firms need to establish which type of CSR best fits their needs before they address the issues raised by stakeholders. Originality/value – The literature on CSR focuses on the relationship between stakeholders and single firms. The paper tries to add to this literature by analysing the relationship between stakeholders and industries. The paper also contributes to the debate on the financial benefits of CSR by arguing that in industries where the convergent type of CSR is dominant researchers should not expect above-average returns for socially-responsible firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Misani, Nicola, 2010. "The convergence of corporate social responsibility practices," MPRA Paper 25505, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25505
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ilídio Barreto & Charles Baden-Fuller, 2006. "To Conform or To Perform? Mimetic Behaviour, Legitimacy-Based Groups and Performance Consequences," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(7), pages 1559-1581, November.
    2. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    3. Anne Tempel & Peter Walgenbach, 2007. "Global Standardization of Organizational Forms and Management Practices? What New Institutionalism and the Business-Systems Approach Can Learn from Each Other," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-24, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Laudal, 2011. "Drivers and barriers of CSR and the size and internationalization of firms," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 234-256, July.
    2. Ala'aldin Alrowwad & Bader Yousef Obeidat & Ali Tarhini & Noor Aqqad, 2017. "The Impact of Transformational Leadership on Organizational Performance via the Mediating Role of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 10(1), pages 199-221, January.
    3. Catalina Soriana SITNIKOV & Claudiu George BOCEAN, 2012. "Corporate Social Responsibility Through The Lens Of Iso Standards," Business Excellence and Management, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 2(4), pages 56-66, December.
    4. Esben Pedersen & Wencke Gwozdz, 2014. "From Resistance to Opportunity-Seeking: Strategic Responses to Institutional Pressures for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Nordic Fashion Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 245-264, January.
    5. Cohen, Solomon I., 2014. "Different institutional behavior in different economic systems: Theory and evidence on diverging systems worldwide," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 221-242.
    6. José María González González, 2010. "Determinants of socially responsible corporate behaviours in the Spanish electricity sector," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 386-403, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    corporate social responsibility; strategy; institutional isomorphism; herd behaviour; cooperative behaviour; private regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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