Stakeholder Influence Capacity and the Variability of Financial Returns to Corporate Social Responsibility

Abstract

This paper argues that research on the business case for corporate social responsibility (CSR) must account for the path dependent nature of firm-stakeholderrelations, and develops the construct of stakeholder influence capacity (SIC) to fill this void. SIC helps to explain why the effects of CSR on corporate financial performance (CFP) vary across firms and across time, therein providing a missing link in the study of the business case. This paper distinguishes CSR from related and confounded corporate resource allocations and from corporate social performance (CSP), then incorporates SIC into a model that explains how acts of CSR are transformed into CFP through stakeholder relationships. This paper also develops a set of propositions to aid future research on the contingencies that produce variable financial returns to investments in CSR

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