A selection of interesting articles we found recently considering various perspectives on CSR.

What is the focus of CSR in healthcare?
The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been the subject of several academic contributions, but in the health sector the development of an interest in this subject is very recent. Although many practices in healthcare are already socially responsible, progressing from a series of socially responsible behaviours to a socially responsible organization entails a more consolidated awareness of the health sector’s mission and the needs of its participants.

This paper reviews the different studies published that address the relationship between the healthcare sector’s corporate responsibility and society, with the aims of individuating the prevailing foci that are emerging and categorizing the proposed contributions according to these foci: social responsibility and organization; social responsibility and social impact; social responsibility and competitiveness.

Finally, the paper finishes with a personal definition of CSR and its correlated ethical roots.
Find out more at: Fabrizio Russo. 2016. What is the CSR’s Focus in Healthcare?
Journal of Business Ethics, 134(2), 323-334.


Micro-level foundations and dynamics of political CSR 
Exploration of the political roles firms play in society is a flourishing stream within corporate social responsibility (CSR) research. However, few empirical studies have examined multiple levels of political CSR at the same time from a critical perspective.

We explore both how the motivations of managers and internal organizational practices affect a company’s choice between competing CSR approaches, and how the different CSR programs of corporate and civil society actors compete with each other. We present a qualitative interpretative case study of how a French children’s clothing retailer develops CSR practices in response to accusations of poor working conditions and child labour in its supply chain. The company’s CSR approach consists of superficial practices, such as supplier audits by a cooperative business-organised nongovernmental organisation (NGO) and philanthropic activities, which enable managers to silence more radical alternative models defended by other NGOs, activists, and trade unions.

By this approach, the core business model based on exploitative low-cost country sourcing remains intact through self-regulated CSR. Through the case study, we develop a framework of dynamism in competing CSR programs. We discuss the implications of our study for CSR researchers, company managers, and policy makers.

Find more at: Arno Kourula & Guillaume Delalieux. 2016. The Micro-level Foundations and Dynamics of Political Corporate Social Responsibility: Hegemony and Passive Revolution through Civil Society.
Journal of Business Ethics, 135(4), 769-785.


Asian versus Western executive beliefs differ towards key stakeholders 
Exploring the construct of social-responsibility orientation across three Asian and two Western societies (Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the United States), Witt & Stahl show that top-level executives in these societies hold fundamentally different beliefs about their responsibilities toward different stakeholders, with concomitant implications for their understanding and enactment of responsible leadership. The authors further find that these variations are more closely aligned with institutional factors than with cultural variables, suggesting a need to clarify the connection between culture and institutions on the one hand and culture and social-responsibility orientations on the other.

Read this Open Access article in full for free: Witt, M.A. & Stahl, G.K. 2016. Foundations of Responsible Leadership: Asian Versus Western Executive Responsibility Orientations Toward Key Stakeholders.
Journal of Business Ethics, 136(3), 623–638.


When do firms invest in Corporate Social Responsibility? 
In this paper, the process for firms to decide whether or not to invest in corporate social responsibility is treated from a real option perspective. We extend the Husted (J Bus Ethics 60:175–183, 2005) framework with an important extra parameter that allows us to understand the timing of CSR investment and explain why some companies drag their feet over CSR investments.

Our model explicitly allows for the impact of the opportunity cost of delaying the CSR investment decision, providing firms with tools to determine the optimal moment of exercising the CSR investment option. We illustrate our timing model through a case study and analyze governmental support strategies for CSR from a real options perspective.

Read more at: Danny Cassimon, Peter-Jan Engelen & Luc Van Liedekerke. 2016. When do Firms Invest in Corporate Social Responsibility? A Real Option Framework.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(1), 15-29.


CSR-washing is rare: A conceptual framework, literature review, and critique 
Growth in CSR-washing claims in recent decades has been dramatic in numerous academic and activist contexts. The discourse, however, has been fragmented, and still lacks an integrated framework of the conditions necessary for successful CSR-washing. Theorizing successful CSR-washing as the joint occurrence of five conditions, this paper undertakes a literature review of the empirical evidence for and against each condition.

The literature review finds that many of the conditions are either highly contingent, rendering CSR-washing as a complex and fragile outcome. This finding runs counter to the dominant perception in the general public, among activists, and among a vocal contingent of academics that successful CSR-washing is rampant.

See more at: Shawn Pope & Arild Wæraas. 2016. CSR-washing is rare: A conceptual framework, literature review, and critique. 
Journal Of Business Ethics, 137(1), 173-193.


Market orientation and CSR: Performance implications 
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become of great interest to both researchers and practitioners alike with much discussion on whether the costs outweigh the performance implications. CSR has become a firm strategic tool (not only an ethical concept) as firms recognize that the customer value proposition and CSR is integrated with the focus on how to differentiate the firm from the view of the customer.

We utilized market orientation (MO) theory as our foundation for our research as it explains how organizations adapt to their customer environment to develop competitive advantages. With the current customer focus on CSR, MO assists the field in identifying a possible firm differentiation.

Our research found that firms that ranked high on CSR correlated positively to performance. We also found our theoretically developed constructs of firm customer orientation (CO) and firm market orientation correlated with the firm adopting CSR. The results also indicated that CSR positively mediates CO and MO to firm performance. As past research had mixed results over the direct relation of MO to performance, our research suggests that CSR may be the missing variable to explain the MO/Performance relationship.

Full details: Kiessling, T., Isaksson, L. & Yasar, B. 2016. Market orientation and CSR: performance implications.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(2), 269–284.