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Corporate Social responsibility – Competitive Advantage or Social Concern Nita Choudhary * , Niranjan Kumar Singh Dept. of Management Studies, Jain University, Bangalore – 560038, India * Email of the corresponding author: xiss12@gmail.com Abstract Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which was seen as corporate “Philanthropy” till 1990s is considered as a buzzword today. Business bodies are seeing it as a strategy for coping up with uncertain, turbulent environment. Tata and Birla group of industries are considered pioneers in this field. Business bodies have realized that they may gain competitive advantage when society supports them strongly. Business firms have to make arduous effort to align CSR with competitive advantage, thus balancing the interests of all stakeholders. There is a “need for balance” – companies must address the long term equitable growth issues on which prosperity and human progress depend. Today private capital accounts for 50 percent of all net long term capital flow to developing states. Along with this, pressure has been increasing on business towards social responsibility previously handled by government. Companies have to pay attention to all stakeholders if they have to achieve their business goals. In this paper, the pillars and model of Corporate Social Responsibility has been proposed. Also a survey is conducted to know employee’s perception towards CSR whether CSR is for competitive advantage or social concern or both. The responses obtained from the respondent would help to gain more insight into this topic. Keywords: Philanthropy, Strategies, Governance, Competency, Code of conduct, Ethics 1. Introduction In the early 20th century, business firms were dominated solely by the objective of profit maximization. In the 1970s, social activists began questioning business firms of their sole objective of profit maximization, since very firm gains its existence and momentum from society. Hence firms have certain duties towards the society to perform. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which was seen as corporate “Philanthropy” till 1990s is considered as a strategy today to gain competitive advantage. Also turbulent, complex and competitive business environment urged business bodies to dive into CSR. Today CSR is seen as a key to long term success, reputation and brand image. Corporate books have understood that without healthy and prosperous society the business bodies cannot excel. One of the main objectives of any business activity is to serve the society apart from making profits. A business serves the society by providing employment, raising the standard of living, playing role in civic affairs, providing basic amenities like healthcare and education facilities. Tatas and Birlas are pioneers in this field. Corporate leaders say that companies must pay attention to the well being of the societies in which they function if they wish to flourish. This means companies must identify social trends, behave constructively and work with local communities to promote growth and development. There is a “need for balance” – companies must address the long term equitable growth issues on which prosperity and human progress depend. Today private capital accounts for 50 percent of all net long term capital flow to developing states (Passline, 2010). Along with this, pressure has been increasing on business towards social responsibility previously handled by government. Companies have to pay attention to all stakeholders if they have to achieve their business goals. 1.1 Theoretical concept of CSR The phrase Corporate Social Responsibility was coined in 1953 with the publication of Bowen's 'Social Responsibility of Businessmen'. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication "Making Good Business Sense" by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, used the following definition. "Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave

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Public Policy and Administration Research ISSN 2224-5731(Paper) ISSN 2225-0972(Online) Vol.2, No.1, 2012

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ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large". (www.sbcsd.com, 2000). As per European Commission (2001) CSR is “A concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment. According to Business for Social Responsibility (2003) CSR is “Business decision making linked to ethical values, compliance with legal requirements, and respect for people, communities, and the environment around the world”. The operational definition of social responsibility is “Social responsibility contends that management is responsible to the organization itself and to all the interest groups with which it interacts. Other interest groups such as workers, customers, creditors, suppliers, government and society are placed essentially equal with shareholders” 2. Literature Review Business firms have realized that they can gain reputation only when society supports them strongly. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) marked the crowning of CSR. Carroll’s (1979) classic definition of CSR included four parts: economic, legal, ethical, and voluntary or philanthropic. Good ethics can have a positive economic impact on the performance of firms (Brendar and Dinah, 2002). CSR depends on the relationship between business and society and how businesses responds towards their key stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, suppliers, communities, and special interest groups (Hick, 2000). Businesses have a moral obligation to give back to society and enhance it, as they draw their resources from society, (Barnett, 2007). According to Burke and Logsdon (1996), tougher competitive conditions in recent years have put pressure on firms to examine their philanthropy and social responsibility activities. If companies can shift one-time philanthropic donations into a focused program of community partnering, it can be a good first step to develop a comprehensive approach to social responsibility (Tapan & Ravneet, 2007). Over the past decades, CSR has grown to a complex concept which is increasingly central to today’s corporate decision making (Cochran, 2007). It's sometimes asserted that corporate social responsibility is a luxury that is just too expensive for companies and consumers in the developing countries to create jobs and boost GDP. CSR is considered as a secret weapon to acquire more market share. Investors are seeking financial gains from their firms’ involvement in CSR initiatives (Dan O'Brien, 2001). Competitive strategy is the means by which companies increase profitability. While strategic decisions are long-term in nature, managers tend to focus on short-term profitability to meet the expectations of analysts and institutional shareholders. As Friedman (1970) wrote in New York Times, the social responsibility of business is to increase its profit. The only social responsibility of business is to use its resources and to engage in activities designed to increase its profit so long as it stays within the rules of the game, (Friedman, 1967, 1996). The company should operate in ways that secure long term economic performance by avoiding short term behavior that is socially detrimental or socially wasteful (Porter & Mark, 2006). According to Abagail & Donald Siegel (2009), CSR has a neutral impact on financial performance of firms. A company’s core competencies allow it to adapt quickly to new opportunities and integrate production and technology processes to develop new products cheaper and quicker than competitors (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990). Davis (1973) says that long-run self interest is one of the most prevalent reasons to practice CSR to remain profitable in the long run. The integration of SACs (Socially Anchored Competencies) can directly benefit business by increasing profitability (Hill, 1999). There is a competitive advantage that companies believe they can reap by being socially responsible. 2.1 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) implications on CSR The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces one of the world's most prevalent standards for sustainability reporting. As of January 2009, more than 1,500 organizations from 60 countries use the Guidelines to produce their sustainability reports.

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2.2 GRI reporting framework This framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. The cornerstone of the framework is the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The third version of the Guidelines – known as the G3 Guidelines - was published in 2006. It facilitates transparency and accountability by organizations and provides stakeholders a universally-applicable, comparable framework from which to understand disclosed information.

Fig. 1: G3 Reporting framework Source: www.globalreporting.org/ReportingFramework/ReportingFrameworkOverview/ 2.3 Rising expectations around CSR in India The data on attitudes towards CSR in India suggests that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the Indian public say they want their government to force companies to go beyond their traditional economic roles and work to improve society, even if this means higher prices and fewer jobs. They're more demanding in this respect than the Japanese (55%), British (50%) or Americans (39%). Consumer attentiveness to CSR communications by companies also looks to be on the rise in the subcontinent. Consumers, in other words, are conflicted - economic growth is transforming the lives of so many, but this doesn't mean that they're blind to the social and environmental costs that accompany it. With faith in corporate leadership on the decline in India, companies are going to need to demonstrate credibly what they're doing to meet these heightened expectations, or risk government stepping in and enforcing a responsible approach to business. 3. Problem statement The purpose of this study is to find out “Employees’ perception towards CSR - whether CSR is for completive advantage, social concern or both”. 3.1 Objectives of the study 1.

To gain insights into the concept of CSR like:•

Whether a company can survive without practicing CSR

Whether company’s CSR is linked with financial benefits

Whether company’s CSR is linked with building favorable public image

Whether CSR increases motivational level of people

Whether CSR protects shareholder’s interests

2.

To know employees’ perception towards CSR – whether it is for completive advantage, social concern or both.

3.

To propose the model and pillars of CSR.

4.

To create a conceptual management framework for corporate social responsibility.

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3.2 Proposed pillars of CSR 1) Code of conduct – It is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of or proper practices for an individual or organization. It consists of practices, principles and values.

Fig. 2. Elements of code of conduct Source: www.solihullarts.org.uk 2) Society – Organization functions within a social system and draw their resources from it. The management of business bodies has to preserve and enhance the well being of the members of society. For eg. Dabur has initiated some significant programmes for ecological regeneration and protection of endangered plant species The company is also involved in reforestation in the Himalayan ranges. 3) Good governance – Corporate governance is a term that refers broadly to the rules, processes, or laws by which businesses are operated, regulated, and controlled. Good corporate governance is a key to the integrity of corporations, financial institutions and markets, and central to the health of our economies and their stability. For eg. ITC's Corporate Governance initiative is based on two core principles. These are: •

Management must have the executive freedom to drive the enterprise forward without undue restraints; and

This freedom of management should be exercised within a framework of effective accountability.

4) Philanthropy – Corporate philanthropy or corporate giving is the act of corporations donating some of their profits, or their resources, to nonprofit organizations. For eg. IBM gives millions of dollars each year to nonprofits through its corporate philanthropy programs. 5) Customer satisfaction – Business firms have understood the importance of keeping customers satisfied and happy. Unless the customers are satisfied, the business bodies cannot prosper.

Fig 3: Elements of customer satisfaction Source: www.kiwipumps.com 6) Stakeholders’ interest – The primary responsibility of any business is to safeguard the interests of its stakeholders as they pride the crux of business ie. Capital.

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7) CSR programs – The Corporate Social Responsibility Program promotes corporate responsibility by engaging publicly held companies to adopt more progressive social and environmental policies - using the power of ownership to promote positive change. Proposed Model of CSR C o r p o r a t e L e a d e r s h i p

CSR programs Environmental & Social strategies Corporate Governance Stakeholder interest Community Ethics Competency Philanthropy

Fig 4: Proposed model of CSR Groups

CSR elements

Foundation

Philanthropy, Competency, Ethics, Community and Stakeholder interest

Building Bricks

Corporate Governance, and Environmental and social strategies

Binding Mortar

Corporate Leadership

Roof

CSR programs

4. Methodology The study started with the literature survey via journals, websites that helped to comprehend the various facets of CSR in industries. Hence the questionnaire was designed based upon the objectives of the study. 4.1 Tools of Data Collection and Analysis The study employs primary data collected by the executives of the organizations with the help of a structured questionnaire. The respondents were from both public and private sector comprising of manufacturing, IT, Pharmaceutical, FMCG, banking & insurance, education and telecom sector in Bangalore. The survey was carried out in Bangalore City during September 2010 – June 2011. The study employed non-probabilistic sampling. 800 nos. of questions were distributed by the way of personal contact and email but finally 124 nos. of responses were received. In the sample size of 124, working executives were surveyed from different companies. The analysis of data was carried out using Mini Tab software. The questionnaire consists of nine closed-ended questions and one open-ended question for the purpose of data collection. The perceptions on various issues selected for the study were collected on a 5-point Likert scale (1 – strongly agree; 5 – strongly disagree). The information and data collected were organized using simple statistics (e.g. frequency distribution, percentile ranking, etc.) and graphical

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presentation. 4.2 Analysis of Data & Results People awareness about CSR 100% of the executives are aware of the CSR. Company Involvement in CSR Figure 1 summarizes the findings of company’s involvement in CSR. All the companies are not involved in CSR activities. 79.5% of the executives say that their company is involved in CSR and 19.7 % say “No” to it. Figure 1: Company Involvement in CSR 120

100

100

80 60

60 40

Percent

Frequency

80

40 20

20 0 C1 Count Percent Cum %

0 yes 97 79.5 79.5

No 24 19.7 99.2

Other 1 0.8 100.0

Is your company involved in CSR? C1 - Company Involvement in CS R Other - Can't S ay

Survival without CSR Figure 2 summarizes the findings of company survival without practicing CSR. 32% executives agree that company can not survive without CSR whereas 31% executives disagree and 36.1% executives are neutral.

Figure 2: Survival without CSR 120

100 80

80 60 60 40 40 20

20 0 C2 Count Percent Cum %

0 Ne u

tral

43 36.1 36.1

Agree

ree Agree i s ag n gl y gl y D S tro S tron 31 7 6 26.1 5.9 5.0 89.1 95.0 100.0

gree Di sa

32 26.9 63.0

Do you agree that company can survive without practicing CSR? C2 - S urvival without CS R

CSR linkage with financial benefits

16

Percent

Frequency

100


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Figure 3 summarizes the findings of CSR linkage with financial benefits. 35.3% of executives are neutral for this case and 29.4% agree.

Figure 3: CSR linked with financial benefits 120

100

80

80 60 60

Percent

Frequency

100

40 40 20

20 0 C3 Count Percent Cum %

0 Agree 46 39.0 39.0

Neutral 38 32.2 71.2

Disagree 19 16.1 87.3

S trongly Agree 10 8.5 95.8

Other 5 4.2 100.0

Do you agree that company’s CS R is linked with financial benefits? C3 - CS R linked with financial benefits

Building favorable image with CSR Figure 4 summarizes the findings of building favorable image with CSR. 43.1% executives agree with the fact that CSR is linked with favorable public image and 30.9% executives are neutral. Figure 4: Building favorable image with CSR

120

100

100

80

80

60

60 40 40 20

20 0 C4 Count Percent Cum %

0 Agree 53 43.1 43.1

Neutral 38 30.9 74.0

S trongly Agree 17 13.8 87.8

Disagree 12 9.8 97.6

S trongly Disagree 3 2.4 100.0

Do you agree that company’s CS R is linked with building favorable public image? C4 - Building favorable image with CS R

C1: Building favorable image with CSR Collaborating/Supporting NGO Figure 5 depicts whether companies are collaborated with or supporting NGOs. 42.1% executives believe that their companies have been collaborated with or support NGOs

17

Percent

Frequency

140


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Figure 5: Collaborating/Supporting NGO 100

120

80

80 60 60

Percent

Frequency

100

40 40 20

20 0 C5 Count Percent Cum %

0 yes 51 42.1 42.1

No 36 29.8 71.9

Can't S ay 34 28.1 100.0

Is your company collaborated with or supports any NGO? C5 - Collaborating/S upporting NGO

CSR and motivational level Figure 6 summarizes the findings of CSR & motivational level of the employees. 51.2% executives agree that CSR increases the motivational level of employees while 27.3% are neutral.

120

100

100

80

Frequency

80 60 60 40 40 20

20 0 C6 Count Percent Cum %

0 Agree 62 51.2 51.2

Neutral 33 27.3 78.5

S trongly Agree 21 17.4 95.9

Disagree 5 4.1 100.0

Do you agree that CS R increases the motivational level of employees? C6 - CS R and motivational level

CSR and shareholder’s interests Figure 7 depicts people perception about whether CSR protects shareholder’s interest. 41.2 % of the people are neutral and 47.4% people agree for that.

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Percent

Figure 6: CSR and motivational le ve l


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Figure 7: CSR and shareholder’s interests 120 100 100 80

60 60

Percent

Frequency

80

40 40 20

20 0 C7 Count Percent Cum %

0 Agree 54 47.4 47.4

Neutral 47 41.2 88.6

S trongly Agree 8 7.0 95.6

Disagree 5 4.4 100.0

Do you agree that CS R protects shareholder’s interests? C7 - CS R and shareholder’s interests

CSR: A Competitive advantage or a Social concern Figure 8 summarizes the findings of CSR as a competitive advantage or social concern or both. 59% or majority of executives think that it is for both the purposes and 31.6 % think that it is for social concern. Figure 8: CSR: A Compe titive advantage or a Social conce rn 120

100

100

60 60 40 40 20

20 0 C8

0 B o th

Count Percent Cum %

69 59.0 59.0

S oci al

n e C on ce r dvan tag i ti ve A C ompet

37 31.6 90.6

9 7.7 98.3

Oth e r

2 1.7 100.0

What is the main objective of CS R? C8 - CS R: A Competitive advantage or a S ocial concern

C8: Objectives of CSR CSR benefits contributed by the organization Out of 124 respondents, only 73 people responded to this question. Contributions given by the organization towards CSR are as follow: Figure 9 summarizes the possible CSR benefits contributed by the organization. Three major contributions are funds raised for orphanage, natural calamities and old age homes.

19

Percent

Frequency

80 80


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Figure 9: CSR be ne fits contribute d by the organization 18 16

Frequency

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 s dy es dy us ge ed on es l ue ti es O's mp tati ll an eo ph ana gani z r amm e hom to ne e s /n ee NG on C a nd Va alami r g r l an e g t e r g a n o p o n c o a i ti e Br u ral c Mis ndi ng Camp in g pr g Ol d l oyme r farm Fun d Dona Tre at l fo n d p n a i n o Fu y m c d rn a o t e i l d Bl g fo c il i Fun ovi de n a Me mi ly p i f d Pr i on al Fa Fun at c u Ed

What is the main objective of CSR?

5. Conclusion Companies have realized that in order to survive and prosper, they have to contribute to the society as a duty. Companies are contributing a significant share for the upliftment of the society in which they live. CSR is now not seen as a philanthropic act but as a strategy for long term success. Business bodies are now merging the profit earning goal with well being of society. For this they are collaborating with NGOs to lay their hands on CSR. Improving society helps in improving the performance of companies and results in enhancing the shareholders value. References Barnett, M. (2007), “Stakeholder influence capacity and the variability of financial returns to CSR”, Academy of Management Review, 32, 794 – 816. Burke, L. & Logsdon, J.M. (1996), “How corporate responsibility pays off? Long-Range Planning”, 29(4), 495 – 502. Carroll Archie B. (1979), “A Three-Dimensional Conceptual Model of Corporate Performance”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 497-505. Cochran, P.L. (2007), “The evolution of CSR”, Business Horizons, 50(6), 449 – 454. “Corporate social responsibility – CSR program”, http://www.asyousow.org/csr/csrp.shtml Davis, K. (1973),” The Case for and Against Business Assumption of Social Responsibilities”, Academy of Management Journal, 16(2), 312-322. Friedman, M. (1970). “The Social Responsibility of Business is to increase its Profits.” New York Sunday Times Magazine, 13 September, 32-40. Friedman, M. (1996). “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits”, published in New York Times magazine. Hick, S. (2000). “Morals Markets the Money”, Australian CPA, 70(4), 72 - 73. Hill, C.W.L. (2000), “International Business: Competing in the Global Marketplace”, the McGraw-Hill Higher Education Press, 379.

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Public Policy and Administration Research ISSN 2224-5731(Paper) ISSN 2225-0972(Online) Vol.2, No.1, 2012 Joanne, “Corporate Philanthropy”. http://nonprofit.about.com/od/glossary/g/corpgiving.htm.

www.iiste.org

[Online]

Available:

Joyner, Brenda E. & Payne, Dinah (2002). “Evolution and Implementation: A Study of Values, Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility”, Journal of Business Ethics, 41(4), 297 – 311. McWilliams, Abagail & Siegel, Donald, (2000). “Corporate social responsibility and financial performance: correlation or misspecification?”, Strategic Management Journal, 21(5), 603–609. O'Brien, Dan, (2001). “Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility with Competitive Strategy”, winner of the 2001 "Best MBA Paper in Corporate Citizenship" competition, sponsored by The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College. “People Vs Profit” (2010). www.passlinebusinessmagazine.in.

Passline,

15(24),

21-24.

[Online]

Available:

Prahalad, C. K. & Hamel G. (1989). “Strategic Intent”, Publication date: Jun 21, 2010. Prod. #: 12361PBK-ENG, Harvard Business Review. Porter, Michael E. & Kramer, Mark R. (2006). “The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility”, Harvard Business review. “Rising expectations around CSR in India”, retrieved as on 10 July, 2010. [Online] Available: http://globescaninsights.blogspot.com/2010/07/rising-expectations-around-csr-in- india.html Shah, Kinjal, (2008). “Indian perspective of CSR”, HRM Review,14 – 18 Shailaja, (2008). “Emerging models of CSR”, HRM Review, 11 – 13. Trivedi, Tapan &, Kaur, Ravneet, (2007). “Social, Public Service & Cause related marketing”, International Marketing Conference on Marketing & Society. “What is wrong with Corporate http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=2682

Social

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Responsibility,

[Online]

Available:


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ANNEXURE Name:

Organization’s name:

1) Do you know about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? a) Yes

b) No

2) Is your company involved in CSR? a) Yes

b) No

3) Do you agree that company can survive without practicing CSR? Agree

Strongly agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly disagree

4) Do you agree that company’s CSR is linked with financial benefits? Agree

Strongly agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly disagree

5) Do you agree that company’s CSR is linked with building favorable public image? Agree

Strongly agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly disagree

6) Does your company is collaborated with or supports any NGO? a) Yes

b) No

c) Can’t say

7) Do you agree that CSR increases the motivational level of employees? Agree

Strongly agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

8) Do you agree that CSR protects shareholder’s interests? Agree

Strongly agree

Neutral

9) According to you what is the main objective of CSR? a)

Competitive advantage

b) Social concern

c) Both a & b

If others, please mention --------------------10) What are the CSR benefits contributed by your organization? a) ___________________________________________ b) ___________________________________________ c) __________________________________________

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d) Others


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11.Corporate Social responsibility Competitive Advantage or Social Concern  

1.1 Theoretical concept of CSR The phrase Corporate Social Responsibility was coined in 1953 with the publication of Bowen's 'Social Respons...

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