Does Corporate Social Responsibility Affect Firms' Performance?
In the last two decades in the OECD countries there have been a raising development of firms certified as Social Responsible (CSR is the acronym of Corporate Social Responsibility). This kind of certification is assigned by private companies that guarantee that the behaviour of a certain firms environmentally and sociologically correct. Some papers (among other Preston and O'Bannon, 1997; Waddock and Graves, 1997; McWilliams and Sieger, 2001; Ullman, 1985) tried to verify if there exists a link between Social Responsibility certification and firms' performance. Their results are ambiguous and do not show a common path. This ambiguity depends mainly on the static nature of their analyses and on problem if performance is affected more by certification costs or by increasing sales due to a reputation effect. Our work would like to verify, after a review of literature, by using panel data, if some performance indicators can be affected by the firms' social responsible behaviour and their certifications. The novelty of our analysis comes from its dynamic aspect and from the building of a CSR index that intersects two of the three main international indices (Domini 400 Social Index, Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, FTSE4Good Index), in order to be objective and to have a representative sample. The main results seem to support the idea that the CSR firms are the more virtuous, having better performances in the long run: they bear some initial costs but obtain higher sales and profits due to several causes: reputation effect, a reduction of long rin costs, increasing social responsible demand.
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