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Corporate social performance (CSP) in time of economic crisis

Ludovic Cassely Sami Ben Larbi 1 Christophe Revelli Alain Lacroux 
1 CERGAM de Toulon - Centre d'Études et de Recherche en Gestion d'Aix-Marseille/Equipe de recherche de Toulon
CERGAM - Centre d'Études et de Recherche en Gestion d'Aix-Marseille, IAE Toulon - Institut d'Administration des Entreprises (IAE) - Toulon, UTLN - Université de Toulon
Abstract : Purpose This study aims to compare the different effects of the 2008 economic crisis on companies’ corporate social performance (CSP) in coordinated market economies (CMEs) and liberal market economies (LMEs). Design/methodology/approach This paper mobilizes a pluralistic theoretical framework that borrows from neo-institutional and corporate governance theories to compare the impacts of the 2008 economic crisis on long-term CSP in an international context. Based on the longitudinal database of Vigeo Eiris (2004–2015), the panel was decomposed between two models of capitalism (LME and CME). For each model, this paper conducted a series of regressions, taking into account the longitudinal nature of the data using estimates based on generalized estimating equations (Liang and Zeger, 1986). Findings The paper shows that the economic crisis prompted companies operating in LMEs and CMEs to reorient their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in quite different ways during the four-year period that the crisis lasted, as well as the succeeding four-year post-crisis period. While CSR was perceived in LMEs as a threat during the crisis period because of the additional costs it generated, it offered CME companies a way of redefining how they relate to the rest of society, with their goal becoming the creation of greater shared value. Research limitations/implications The results are dependent from the data, and specifically from the Vigeo Eiris database. It would be interesting to extrapol this kind of research with the use of other CSP/environmental, social and governance (ESG) databases as Morgan Stanley Capital International, Sustainalytics or RepRisk, to compare and conclude more globally on tendencies. Another limitation relates to the binary nature of Hall and Soskice’s (2001) typology, with its neo-institutionalist inspiration, that puts Continental European and social-democratic models of capitalism on the same plane. Practical implications This study teaches managers, analysts and policymakers that CSR can be a powerful strategic lever capable of remedying the harmful effects that economic crises have in both LMEs and CMEs, notwithstanding the cultural, socio-economic and political differences between these models of capitalism. Economic and social crises must help companies to rethink and revisit their business models and CSR practices to subsequently implement sustainability strategies more in sync with the values forced upon them by the economic systems to which they belonged but also by all their stakeholders. Social implications From a managerial standpoint, this study allows practitioners to consider CSR as an opportunity to rethink their strategy and business models in a period of crisis, and no more a threat that could reduce the economic performance in increasing the costs, and thus, the cost of financing. Originality/value After reading the literature on the topic, this paper clearly thinks about the high degree of contribution of the paper, as the topic is not so developed and that the study implies several contributions. First, from a theoretical level, the study differs from previous research studies insofar as it compares the impacts of the economic crisis on companies’ CSP in CMEs and LMEs using a theoretical framework that operationalizes both contractual and neo-institutional theories. Second, from a methodological standpoint, the approach using an ESG data provider known worldwide (Vigeo Eiris) has not been down yet. Third, on a managerial level, the present study teaches managers, analysts and policymakers that CSR can be a powerful strategic lever capable of remedying the harmful effects that economic crises have in both LMEs and CMEs, notwithstanding the cultural, socio-economic and political differences between these models of capitalism.
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https://hal-univ-tln.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03513326
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 6:16:57 PM
Last modification on : Friday, February 4, 2022 - 3:25:47 AM

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Ludovic Cassely, Sami Ben Larbi, Christophe Revelli, Alain Lacroux. Corporate social performance (CSP) in time of economic crisis. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Emerald, 2021, 12 (5), pp.913-942. ⟨10.1108/SAMPJ-07-2020-0262⟩. ⟨hal-03513326⟩

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