From Social Responsibility to Social Impact: A Framework and Research Agenda
42 Pages Posted: 6 May 2020
Date Written: October 31, 2019
While corporate social responsibility (CSR) has received increasing attention in the management literature, the focus of most prior work has been on the financial implications of CSR activities for firms, rather than on their consequences for social welfare. We contend that this relative neglect stems from the lack of a conceptual framework to evaluate social impact, and offer such a framework in this study. Specifically, we identify four criteria that an activity must meet in order to have an unambiguously positive effect on social welfare: it must be substantive, meaning that it delivers meaningful benefits to those it claims to serve; it must be unequivocal, meaning that these benefits must not be offset by harmful actions by the firm elsewhere; it must be inclusive, meaning that those that do not benefit from the firm’s actions are not left worse off; and it must be comparatively efficient, meaning that the same activity could not be carried out more effectively or efficiently under a different organizational form. By developing a coherent and rigorous framework to assess social impact systematically, our study offers both a research agenda for future scholars, and a useful tool for managers seeking to design more effective CSR initiatives.
Keywords: social impact, social responsibility, strategic CSR, market for social goods
JEL Classification: M14, D6
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation