Tag Archives: corporate social responsibility

Walking the talk about Corporate Social Responsibility Communications

This is an excerpt from one of my latest articles that was accepted for publication by Wiley’s Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility (formerly known as Business Ethics: A European Review).

Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2022). Walking the talk about corporate social responsibility communication: An Elaboration Likelihood Model perspective, Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/beer.12427

(Source: Camilleri, 2022)

Theoretical implications

This contribution validated the Elaboration Likelihood Model’s (ELM’s) measures and key constructs relating to the Information Adoption Model (IAM). Specifically, this research identified the effects of information relevance, information accuracy, information accuracy, source trustworthiness and source expertise on the individual’ attitudes toward online CSR communications.

The results confirmed that both central as well as peripheral factors (to a lower extent) were having a significant effect on the targeted audiences’ changing attitudes toward corporate communications. In sum, this study indicated that online users appreciated relevant and timely CSR content from trusted sources – that were curated by experts. This finding is conspicuous with relevant theoretical underpinnings on ELM. For instance, Chen and Chang (2018) and even Rawlins (2008) contended that individuals are usually captivated by current, relevant, complete, accurate, reliable, comparable and clear communications.

Relevant academic literature reported that individuals may choose to pursue ELM’s central route, whenever they evaluate the quality of the arguments/information that is communicated to them (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Alternatively, if they are not interested or motivated on the content, they may usually rely on the sources’ credibility to form their attitudes and opinions on their messages. Previous research often utilized ‘source expertise’ and ‘source trustworthiness’ constructs to measure the respondents’ perceptions about the credibility of sources of information.

In this case, this study found that the research participants were more influenced by ELM’s central route processing as information timeliness and information relevance were having nuanced effect on attitudes when compared to the peripheral factors including source expertise. Evidently, the respondents reflected and thought on CSR communications they accessed through the Internet and via social media. This finding implies that the businesses’ elaborated, high-quality content was changing their stakeholders’ attitudes toward CSR information.

Nevertheless, the research model indicated that the participants were somehow affected by peripheral issues, particularly by the source expertise of content curators. Previous literature reported that the recipients of information can still be influenced by the peripheral route’s subjective cues and/or by heuristic inferences (i.e. low elaboration issues). For instance, many individuals are continuously exposed to corporate communications from businesses who have excellent credentials among their followers (Camilleri, 2021a).

The findings from this study revealed that source trustworthiness was the weakest antecedent of the individuals’ attitudes toward CSR communications. This result is similar to previous findings from other studies, where the researchers reported that there were lower effects from peripheral factors like source credibility/source trustworthiness (than from central factors) on information usefulness/attitudes toward information.

This research demonstrated that external stakeholders were mainly processing information relating to the businesses’ CSR activities through the central route, as they considered their communications as elaborate, timely and relevant. However, it also showed that they held positive perceptions about the expertise of content curators who were disseminating information on their CSR credentials via digital media

Managerial implications

This contribution has investigated the online users’ attitudes about CSR communications and revealed their perceptions about the sources’ credibility. It implies that businesses can improve their credentials if they publish quality CSR content that is appreciated by their stakeholders. This research suggests that external stakeholders expected businesses to publish relevant information that is accurate and timely. This finding suggests that there is scope for the businesses to regularly update their CSR webpages with the latest developments. For instance, they can publish certain information and newsfeeds about non-financial matters including on their immediate responses to COVID-19 like sanitization and hygienic measures in their workplace environments. They may disseminate health and safety information through social media sites or via online video sharing platforms. They can use different digital media to promote their businesses’ responsible behaviors toward their employees and the community at large, during different waves of the pandemic.

Ultimately, it is in the companies’ interest to communicate about appropriate ESG matters with different stakeholders (Camilleri, 2021b). Businesses ought to use corporate websites to disseminate information on commercial aspects, corporate governance policies, CSR and/or environmental sustainability initiatives as well as on COVID-19. In this day and age, they should also utilize social media networks (SNSs) on a regular basis, to raise awareness about their website, and to interact on different issues with their followers, in real time. They can publish appealing content including images and videos about their CSR activities to entice the curiosity of stakeholders. They may also share excerpts from their CSR disclosures and could feature forward-looking statements that shed light on their trajectories for a post COVID-19 era.

Limitations and directions for future research

This study is not without limitations. The measures that were used to capture the data were drawn from ELM and from its related IAM. These theoretical models were mostly referenced in previous studies that were mostly focused on the co-creation of content, including online reviews and electronic word of mouth publicity. Therefore, the survey items were adapted for a study that sought to explore the online users’ attitudes toward CSR communications. In this case, the results confirmed the reliability and validity of the constructs. Hence, prospective researchers are encouraged to replicate this study in other contexts.

Future studies may consider different constructs that may be drawn from other theoretical frameworks, to shed more light on the individuals’ attitudes toward online communications, information adoption and/or intentional behaviors. Researchers may adopt other constructs to evaluate different aspects of online content. They may investigate perceptions about information access, information understandability, data richness, interactivity and customization capabilities or information completeness, among others. Alternatively, they could determine whether the information is rhetoric, difficult to understand, confusing, ineffective or even useless for online users. Furthermore, alternative research methods and sampling frames can be used to capture and analyze the data. Interpretative studies can explore other stakeholders’ in-depth opinions and beliefs on CSR communications and delve deeper into their content.  Inductive studies may reveal other important issues on how to improve the quality and credibility of CSR disclosures in the digital age.

References

Camilleri, M. A. (2021a). Strategic dialogic communication through digital media during COVID-19. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 1-18. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343294285_Strategic_Dialogic_Communication_Through_Digital_Media_During_COVID-19_Crisis

Camilleri, M.A. (2021b). Strategic attributions of corporate social responsibility and environmental management: The business case for doing well by doing good! Sustainable Development, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sd.2256

Chen, C. C., & Chang, Y. C. (2018). What drives purchase intention on Airbnb? Perspectives of consumer reviews, information quality, and media richness. Telematics and Informatics35(5), 1512-1523.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer, New York, NY.

Rawlins, B. (2008). Give the emperor a mirror: Toward developing a stakeholder measurement of organizational transparency. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(1), 71-99.

This excerpt was adapted for a blog. The full paper can be downloaded through: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359186812_Walking_the_talk_about_corporate_social_responsibility_communication_An_Elaboration_Likelihood_Model_perspective

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How can we combat climate change?

This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions.

Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2022). The rationale for ISO 14001 certification: A systematic review and a cost-benefit analysis, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, https://doi.org/10.1002/csr.2254

Source: UNFCCC.int

During the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21), one hundred ninety-six (196) countries pledged their commitment to implement environmental performance measures to reduce the effects of climate change. This conference has led to the development of the ‘Paris Agreement’ where signatories became legally bound to limit global warming to below 2°C, and possibly 1.5°C (Palea & Drogo, 2020; Secinaro, Brescia, Calandra & Saiti, 2020). They recognized the importance of averting and minimizing the environmental impact that is caused by climate change, by scaling up their efforts and support initiatives to reduce emissions, by building resilience among parties, and by promoting cooperation (Birindelli & Chiappini, 2021; Gatto, 2020).

In the aftermath of COP 21, many countries submitted their plans for climate action (these plans are also known as nationally determined contributions – NDCs), where they communicated about their tangible actions that were aimed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of rising temperatures (Fatica & Panzica, 2021; Gerged, Matthews & Elheddad, 2021).  Consequentially, intergovernmental organizations including the European Union (EU), among others, are increasingly establishing ambitious carbon neutrality goals and zero-carbon solutions to tackle climate change issues (Benz, Paulus, Scherer, Syryca & Trück, 2021).

Many countries are incentivizing businesses across different economic sectors, to reduce their emissions. For example, the EU member states are expected to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% before 2030, and by 60% prior to 2050 (EU, 2019). These targets would require the commitment of stakeholders from various sectors including those operating within the energy and transportation industries, among others.

The latest climate change conference (COP26) suggested that progress has been made on the signatories’ mitigation measures that were aimed to reduce emissions, on their adaptation efforts to deal with climate change impacts, on the mobilization of finance, and on the increased collaboration among countries to reach 2030 emissions targets. However, more concerted efforts are required to deliver on these four pledges (UNFCC, 2021).

This contribution raises awareness on the use of environmental management standards that are intended to support organizations of different types and sizes, including private entities, not-for-profits as well as governmental agencies, to improve their environmental performance credentials. A thorough review of the relevant literature suggests that, over the years many practitioners have utilized the International Standards Organization’s ISO 14001 environment management systems standard to assist them in their environmental management issues (Baek, 2018; Delmas & Toffel, 2008; Erauskin‐Tolosa, Zubeltzu‐Jaka, Heras‐Saizarbitoria & Boiral, 2020; Melnyk, Sroufe & Calantone, 2003).

Many academic commentators noted that several practitioners operating in different industry sectors, in various contexts, are implementing ISO 14001 requirements to obtain this standard’s certification (Boiral, Guillaumie, Heras‐Saizarbitoria & Tayo Tene, 2018; Para‐González & Mascaraque‐Ramírez, 2019; Riaz, & Saeed, 2020). Whilst several researchers contended about the benefits of abiding by voluntary principles and guidelines (Camilleri, 2018), others discussed about the main obstacles to obtaining impartial audits, assurances and certifications from independent standard setters (Hillary, 2004; Ma, Liu, Appolloni & Liu, 2021; Robèrt, Schmidt-Bleek, Aloisi De Larderel … & Wackernagel, 2002; Teng & Wu, 2018).

Hence, this research examines identifies the rationale for ISO 14001 certification (Carvalho, Santos & Gonçalves, 2020; Eltayeb, Zailani & Ramayah, 2011; Lee, Noh, Choi & Rha, 2017; Potoski & Prakash, 2005) that is supposedly intended to improve the organizations’ environmental performance and to enhance their credentials. Specifically, this contribution’s objectives are threefold. Firstly, it provides a generic background on voluntary instruments, policies and guidelines that are intended to promote corporate environmentally responsible behaviors. Secondly, it presents the results from a systematic review of academic articles that were focused on ISO 14001 – environment management systems. Thirdly, it synthesizes the findings from high impact papers and discusses about the benefits and costs of using this standard. In conclusion, it elaborates on the implications of this research, it identifies its limitations and points out future research avenues.

In sum, this contribution differentiates itself from previous articles, particularly those that sought to investigate the introduction and implementation of environment management systems in specific entities. This research involves a two-stage systematic analysis. It appraises a number of empirical investigations, theoretical articles, reviews, case studies, discursive/opinion papers, from 1995-2021. Afterwards, it scrutinizes their content to shed more light on the pros and cons of using ISO 14001 as a vehicle to improve corporate environmental performance.

This paper can be downloaded, in its entirety, through ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358557458_The_rationale_for_ISO_14001_certification_A_systematic_review_and_a_cost-benefit_analysis

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The European Union’s corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD)

The European Union (EU)’s non-financial reporting directive (NFRD) law requires that large undertakings including corporations, listed businesses and government entities, among others, to disclose information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. This helps investors, civil society organisations, consumers, policy makers and other stakeholders to be in a better position to evaluate their non-financial performance (Camilleri, 2015; Camilleri, 2018; EU, 2014).

Recently, the EU (2021) put forward its proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which would amend the existing reporting requirements of the NFRD. In sum, the proposal extends the audit requirement to large companies and listed businesses in regulated markets (except listed micro-enterprises). They will be expected to introduce more detailed reporting requirements, according to mandatory EU sustainability reporting standards. At the time of writing this contribution, it is envisaged that the first set of standards would be adopted by October 2022 (EU, 2021).

References:

Camilleri, M.A. (2015). Environmental, social and governance disclosures in Europe.  Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 6(2), 224-242. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2014-0065/full/html

Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Theoretical insights on integrated reporting: The inclusion of non-financial capitals in corporate disclosures, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 23(4), 567-581. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/CCIJ-01-2018-0016/full/html

EU (2014). Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups. European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32014L0095

EU (2021). EU Taxonomy, Corporate Sustainability Reporting, Sustainability Preferences and Fiduciary Duties: Directing finance towards the European Green Deal COM/2021/188 final https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52021DC0188

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Advancing community-based tourism approaches for sustainable destinations

This is an excerpt from one of my latest papers on sustainable tourism.

Suggested citation: Mtapuri, O., Camilleri, M.A. & Dłużewska, A. (2021). Advancing community-based tourism approaches for the sustainable development of destinations. Sustainable Development, 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sd.2257

Image adapted from TravelDailyNews.

Whilst mass tourism service providers, such as foreign owned properties including international hotel chains are associated with economic leakages (Garrigós et al., 2015), locally-owned, smaller businesses, are usually aligned to economic linkages.

Destinations can use community-based tourism (CBT) approaches to increase linkages by attracting high yield, affluent tourists to locally-owned companies (Butler, 2020; Prasiasa, et al., 2020). From a community-based perspective, the limitation of tourism figures can improve the destinations’ sustainability, whilst limiting the impacts on the natural environment (Saarinen, 2006:1129). Tourism businesses can contribute to reduce their impact on the environment by limiting the number of tourists. They can improve the quality of their services to appeal to high-end segments.

To be successful, the proponents of CBT ought to ensure that they retain specific principles and characteristics. Thus, CBT practitioners could differentiate themselves from other business models by offering authentic, local experiences to their guests. CBT can establish itself as a niche tourism product that appeals to lucrative market segments. Therefore, service providers are expected to deliver on their promises. They have to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations without lowering their standards of service.

CBT operators rely on their community’s local resources including environment/natural resources, heritage, culture as well as on knowledgeable human resources. Their employees should possess customer service skills, and ought to be trained about their local tourism products. Local businesses may usually engage native employees to improve their consumers’ experiences with their CBT product.

However, there may be instances where CBT operators may not find local employees in the labor market. In this case, they have to train their imported employees about local cultures and traditions in order to continue delivering authentic CBT experiences. The following figure presents a model for sustainable CBT that relies on the destinations’ effective management of their carrying capacities.

An ongoing evaluation of the destinations’ infrastructures as well as on their human and natural resources, particularly during their high season, is required to ensure that they do not exceed their specific carrying capacities. While each specific context will have its own specific performance indicators, this contribution suggests that destination marketers ought to consider the following issues:

• The participation of local businesses and individual in CBT.
• Local procurement of products (for accommodation establishments, hotels, restaurants, and to other tourism businesses).


It is in the interest of CBT operators to think locally and act globally (Hofstede, 1998). They should consider sourcing their requirements from their local communities, where possible. Hence, tourism planners could utilize local resources to reduce leakages from their economy.

Governments can encourage tourism businesses to support local enterprises, for example, by purchasing local products, and by supporting the local communities. They may also incentivize businesses through financial instruments to pursue laudable activities. They can also provide support to tourism businesses, including small hotels and B&Bs to upgrade their services to attract lucrative tourists in their communities. At the same time, they have to maintain their destinations’ infrastructure and should offer suitable amenities to visitors.

These strategies are meant to foster an environment that promotes sustainable CBT approaches that are intended to increase economic linkages, whilst improving societal and the environmental outcomes in local communities. The following figure clarifies how tourism businesses can optimize the utilization of local resources through sustainable CBT strategies in order to improve their destination’s carrying capacity whilst reducing leakages from their economy.

The effectiveness of this proposed model for sustainable community-based tourism relies on a regular evaluation of the marketing environment. Tourism practitioners are expected to examine and re-examine their CBT strategies to ensure that they are still creating value to their business, to the local community and to the environment at large.

Sustainable CBT approaches can support the local economic development of destinations, however leakages can jeopardize the destinations’ competitiveness and growth prospects. While the degree and types of leakages may vary, according to specific characteristics of certain countries, it can be argued that the proper utilization of local resources can improve the national economies and the quality of life of different communities, including those from emerging economies.

The type of tourism planning and development that is adopted by certain destinations is another factor that can have an effect on their economic leakages or linkages. Based on the above, this contribution puts forward a theoretical model that is intended to address the limitations of the carrying capacities of various destinations. In sum, it suggests that sustainable CBT approaches that rely on the optimal utilization of local resources (including human and natural) may result in economic growth as well as in positive outcomes to local communities and their natural environments. This model is aimed at rebalancing leakages with linkages in the economy, whilst responding to challenges relating to the supply chains of different tourism businesses.

Indeed, there is scope for destinations to maximize the use of resources at their disposal (both human and natural). In a similar vein, companies should avail themselves of local resources, competences and capabilities. It is also in their interest to engage in strategic CSR and sustainable tourism practices to support local stakeholders and to safeguard their natural environment.

A sustainable CBT model would require tourism businesses to forge relationships with different stakeholders including with the government and its policymakers, suppliers, creditors, employees and customers, among others. The advancement of CBT would also necessitate that destination marketers and hospitality businesses work together, in tandem to improve their tourism product. Local stakeholders are expected to safeguard their natural environment, culture and traditions for the benefit of their communities, and for their valued tourists and visitors who would probably appreciate authentic destinations that offer unique experiences to them.

The full paper and the reference list is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/355446004_Advancing_community-based_tourism_approaches_for_the_sustainable_development_of_destinations

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Why should hospitality businesses care about their stakeholders?

Image by Rob Monkman (React Mobile)

The following text was adapted from one of my latest articles that was published in Wiley’s Sustainable Development (Journal).

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2021). Strategic attributions of corporate social responsibility and environmental management: The business case for doing well by doing.  good! Sustainable Development. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sd.2256

Introduction

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) notion became popularized during the latter part of 20th the century (Carroll, 2021; 1999; Moon, 2007). At the time, businesses were becoming more concerned on how their activities affected legitimate stakeholders and the development of society at large (Phillips, 2003; Freeman & Reed, 1983). Hence, various authors posited that CSR is a fertile ground for theory development and empirical analysis (McWilliams, Siegel & Wright, 2006).

Without doubt, the clarification of the meaning of CSR is a significant strand in the research agenda (Owen, 2005). CSR has developed as a rather vague concept of moral good or normative behaviors (Frederick, 1986). This construct was described as a relativistic measure of ‘the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary expectations that society had of organizations at a given point of time’ (Carroll, 1979). CSR tackled ‘social problem(s)’ to engender positive ‘economic benefit(s)’ to ensure ‘well paid jobs, and … wealth’ (Drucker, 1984).

CSR has continuously been challenged by those who expected businesses to engage in socially responsible behaviors with stakeholders, to adhere to ethical norms in society, and to protect the natural environment (Camilleri, 2015; Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010; Burke & Logsdon, 1996). Previous research reported that CSR practices can result in improved relationships with different stakeholders (Camilleri, 2017a; Moon, 2007; Sen, Bhattacharya & Korschun, 2006).

Various commentators contended that it is in the businesses’ interest to engage in responsible behaviors to forge closer ties with internal and external stakeholders (Ewan & Freeman, 1993; Freeman, 1984). In addition, many researchers reported that there is a causal relationship between the firms’ stakeholder engagement and their financial performance (Henisz, Dorobantu & Nartey, 2014 Pava & Krausz, 1996). This relationship also holds in the tourism and hospitality industry context (Rhou, Singal & Koh, 2016; Camilleri, 2012; Inoue, & Lee, 2011).

Various hotels and restaurants are increasingly communicating about their responsible activities that are having an effect on their stakeholders, including their employees, patrons, guests, suppliers, local communities, the environment, regulatory authorities and the community at large (Camilleri, 2020a). Like other businesses, tourism and hospitality enterprises are always expected to provide decent employment to locals and migrant workers, health and safety in their workplace environments, adequate compensation and recognition of all employees, ongoing training and development opportunities, work-life balance, and the like.

Various studies suggest that, in normal circumstances, when businesses engage in responsible human resources management (HRM), they will boost their employees’ morale, enhance their job satisfaction and reduce the staff turnover (Asimah, 2018). However, an unprecedented COVID-19 and its preventative measures have surely led to a significant reduction in their business activities.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the companies’ social metrics, including on their employees’ conditions of employment, financial remuneration and job security, among other issues (Kramer & Kramer, 2020). It has inevitably led to mass redundancies or resulted in the workers’ reduced wages and salaries. On the other hand, this situation has led to a decrease in the companies’ environmental impacts, such as their greenhouse gas emissions and other unwanted externalities.

Several businesses, including hospitality enterprises are becoming more concerned about their impact on the environment (Kim, Lee & Fairhurst, 2017; Elkington, 1998). In many cases, hotels and restaurants strive to reduce their environmental footprint by offering local, fresh, and sustainable food to their patrons. Very often, they are implementing sustainable models including circular economy systems to use and reuse resources, and to minimize their waste, where possible (Camilleri, 2020b). Alternatively, they are decreasing their electricity and water consumption in their properties, by investing in green technologies and renewable energy sources.

These sustainability initiatives could result in operational efficiencies and cost savings, higher quality, innovation and competitiveness, in the long term. As a matter of fact, many studies confirmed that there is a business case for CSR, as corporations engage in socially responsible and environmentally sound behaviors, to pursue profit-making activities (Porter & Kramer, 2011; 2019; Camilleri, 2012; Carroll & Shabana, 2010; Weber, 2008). Notwithstanding, CSR and sustainable practices can help businesses to improve their reputation, to enhance their image among external stakeholders and could lead to a favorable climate of trust and cooperation with internal stakeholders (Camilleri, 2019a).

In this light, this research builds on previous theoretical underpinnings that are focused on the CSR agenda and on its related stakeholder theory. However, it differentiates itself from other contributions as it clarifies that stakeholder attributions, as well as the corporations’ ethical responsibility, responsible human resources management and environmental responsibility will add value to society and to the businesses themselves.

This contribution addresses a knowledge gap in academia. For the time being, there is no other study that effects of stakeholders’ attributions on the companies’ strategic attributions, as depicted in Figure 1. In sum, this study clarifies that there is scope for businesses to forge strong relationships with different stakeholders. It clearly indicated that their engagement with stakeholders and their responsible behaviors were leading to strategic outcomes for their business and to society at large.

Figure 1. A research model that sheds light on the factors leading to strategic outcomes of corporate responsible behaviors

(Source: Camilleri, 2021)

Implications to academia

This research model suggests that the businesses’ socially and environmentally responsible behaviors are triggered by different stakeholders. The findings evidenced that stakeholder-driven attributions were encouraging tourism and hospitality companies to engage in responsible behaviors, particularly toward their employees. The results confirmed that stakeholders were expecting these businesses to implement environmentally friendly initiatives, like recycling practices, water and energy conservation, et cetera. The findings revealed that there was a significant relationship between stakeholder attributions and the businesses’ strategic attributions to undertake responsible and sustainable initiatives.

This contribution proves that there is scope for tourism and hospitality firms to forge relationships with various stakeholders. By doing so, they will add value to their businesses, to society and the environment. The respondents clearly indicated that CSR initiatives were having an effect on marketplace stakeholders, by retaining customers and attracting new ones, thereby increasing their companies’ bottom lines.

Previous research has yielded mixed findings on the relationships between corporate social performance and their financial performance (Inoue & Lee, 2011; Kang et al., 2010; Orlitzky, Schmidt, & Rynes, 2003; McWilliams and Siegel 2001). Many contributions reported that companies did well by doing good (Camilleri, 2020a; Falck & Heblich, 2007; Porter & Kramer, 2011). The businesses’ laudable activities can help them build a positive brand image and reputation (Rhou et al., 2016). Hence, there is scope for the businesses to communicate about their CSR behaviors to their stakeholders. Their financial performance relies on the stakeholders’ awareness of their social and environmental responsibility (Camilleri, 2019a).

Arguably, the traditional schools of thought relating to CSR, including the stakeholder theory or even the legitimacy theory had primarily focused on the businesses’ stewardship principles and on their ethical or social responsibilities toward stakeholders in society (Carroll, 1999; Evan & Freeman, 1993; Freeman, 1986). In this case, this study is congruent with more recent contributions that are promoting the business case for CSR and environmentally-sound behaviors (e.g. Dmytriyev et al., 2021; Carroll, 2021; Camilleri, 2012; Carroll & Shabana 2010; Falck & Heblich, 2007).

This latter perspective is synonymous with value-based approaches, including ‘The Virtuous Circles’ (Pava & Krausz 1996), ‘The Triple Bottom Line Approach’ (Elkington 1998), ‘The Supply and Demand Theory of the Firm’ (McWilliams & Siegel 2001), ‘the Win-Win Perspective for CSR practices’ (Falck & Heblich, 2007), ‘Creating Shared Value’ (Porter & Kramer 2011), ‘Value in Business’ (Lindgreen et al., 2012), ‘The Stakeholder Approach to Maximizing Business and Social Value’ (Bhattacharya et al., 2012), ‘Value Creation through Social Strategy’ (Husted  et al., 2015) and ‘Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability’ (Camilleri, 2018), among others.

In sum, the proponents of these value-based theories sustain that there is a connection between the businesses’ laudable behaviors and their growth prospects. Currently, there are still a few contributions, albeit a few exceptions, that have focused their attention on the effects of stakeholder attributions on CSR and responsible environmental practices in the tourism and hospitality context.

This research confirmed that the CSR initiatives that are directed at internal stakeholders, like human resources, and/or environmentally friendly behaviors that can affect external stakeholders, including local communities are ultimately creating new markets, improving the companies’ profitability and strengthening their competitive positioning. Therefore, today’s businesses are encouraged to engage with a wide array of stakeholders to identify their demands and expectations. This way, they will be in a position to add value to their business, to society and the environment.

Managerial Implications

The strategic attributions of responsible corporate behaviors focus on exploiting opportunities that reconcile differing stakeholder demands. This study demonstrated that tourism and hospitality employers were connecting with multiple stakeholders. The respondents confirmed that they felt that their employers’ CSR and environmentally responsible practices were resulting in shared value opportunities for society and for the businesses themselves, as they led to an increased financial performance, in the long run.

In the past, CSR was associated with corporate philanthropy, contributions-in-kind toward social and environmental causes, environmental protection, employees’ engagement in community works, volunteerism and pro-bono service among other responsible initiatives. However, in this day and age, many companies are increasingly recognizing that there is a business case for CSR. Although, discretionary spending in CSR is usually driven by different stakeholders, businesses are realizing that there are strategic attributions, in addition to stakeholder attributions, to invest in CSR and environmental management practices (Camilleri, 2017a).

This contribution confirmed that stakeholder pressures were having direct and indirect effects on the businesses’ strategic outcomes. This research clearly indicated that both internal and external stakeholders were encouraging the tourism business to invest in environmentally friendly initiatives. This finding is consistent with other theoretical underpinnings (He, He & Xu, 2018; Graci & Dodds, 2008).

Recently, more hotels and restaurants are stepping in with their commitment for sustainability issues as they comply with non-governmental organizations’ regulatory tools such as process and performance-oriented standards relating to environmental protection, corporate governance, and the like (Camilleri, 2015).

Many governments are reinforcing their rules of law and directing businesses to follow their regulations as well as ethical principles of intergovernmental institutions. Yet, certain hospitality enterprises are still not always offering appropriate conditions of employment to their workers (Camilleri, 2021; Asimah, 2018; Janta et al., 2011; Poultson, 2009). The tourism industry is characterized by its seasonality issues and its low entry, insecure jobs.

Several hotels and restaurants would usually offer short-term employment prospects to newcomers to the labor market, including school leavers, individuals with poor qualifications and immigrants, among others (Harkinson et al., 2011). Typically, they recruit employees on a part-time basis and in temporary positions to economize on their wages. Very often, their low-level workers are not affiliated with trade unions. Therefore, they are not covered by collective agreements. As a result, hotel employees may be vulnerable to modern slavery conditions, as they are expected to work for longer than usual, in unsocial hours, during late evenings, night shifts, and in the weekends.

In this case, this research proved that tourism and hospitality employees appreciated their employers’ responsible HRM initiatives including the provision of training and development opportunities, the promotion of equal opportunities when hiring and promoting employees and suitable arrangements for their health and safety. Their employers’ responsible behaviors was having a significant effect on the strategic attributions to their business.

Hence, there is more to CSR than ‘doing well by doing good’. The respondents believed that businesses could increase their profits by engaging in responsible HRM and in ethical behaviors. They indicated that their employer was successful in attracting and retaining customers. This finding suggests that the company they worked for, had high credentials among their employees. The firms’ engagement with different stakeholders can result in an improved reputation and image. They will be in a better position to create economic value for their business if they meet and exceed their stakeholders’ expectations.  

In sum, the objectives of this research were threefold. Firstly, the literature review has given an insight into mainstream responsible HRM initiatives, ethical principles and environmentally friendly investments. Secondly, its empirical research has contributed to knowledge by adding a tourism industry perspective in the existing theoretical underpinnings that are focused on strategic attributions and outcomes of corporate responsibility behaviors. Thirdly, it has outlined a model which clearly evidences how different stakeholder demands and expectations are having an effect on the businesses’ responsible activities.

On a lighter note, it suggests that Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is triggering businesses to create value to society whilst pursuing their own interest. Hence, corporate social and environmental practices can generate a virtuous circle of positive multiplier effects.

Therefore, there is scope for the businesses, including tourism and hospitality enterprises to communicate about their CSR and environmental initiatives through different marketing communications channels via traditional and interactive media. Ultimately, it is in their interest to promote their responsible behaviors through relevant messages that are clearly understood by different stakeholders.

Limitations and future research

This contribution raises awareness about the strategic attributions of CSR in the tourism and hospitality industry sectors. It clarified that CSR behaviors including ethical responsibility, responsible human resources management and environmental responsibility resulted in substantial benefits to a wide array of stakeholders and to the firm itself. Therefore, there is scope for other researchers to replicate this study in different contexts.

Future studies can incorporate other measures relating to the stakeholder theory. Alternatively, they can utilize other measures that may be drawn from the resource-based view theory, legitimacy theory or institutional theory, among others. Perhaps, further research may use qualitative research methods to delve into the individuals’ opinions and beliefs on strategic attributions of CSR and on environmentally-sound investments, including circular economy systems and renewable technologies.

A free-prepublication version of this paper is available (in its entirety) through ResearchGate.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, COVID19, CSR, Hospitality, Human Resources, human resources management, Marketing, Strategic Management, Strategy, Sustainability, sustainable development, tourism

What was the employees’ state of mind during COVID-19?

This is an excerpt from my latest open-access research that was accepted for publication in Sustainability (IF: 2.576)

Citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2021). The Employees’ State of Mind during COVID-19: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective. Sustainability, 13, 3634. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073634


Academic Implications

This empirical research has presented a critical review of the self-determination theory and its key constructs, as well as on other theoretical underpinnings that were drawn from business ethics and tourism literature. It shed light on the employees’ job security as well as on their extrinsic and intrinsic motivations in their workplace environment. Moreover, it explored their perceptions on their employers’ CSR practices during COVID-19. The study hypothesized that the employees’ identified motivations, introjected motivations, external motivations, job security and their firms’ socially responsible behaviors would have a positive and significant effect on their intrinsic motivations and organizational performance. The findings confirmed that the employees’ intrinsic motivations were predicting their productivity. This relationship was highly significant. Evidently, the employees were satisfied in their job, as they fulfilled their self-determination and intrinsic needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness [15,48,56]. Their high morale in their workplace environment has led to positive behavioral outcomes, including increased organizational performance.

The results reported that there were highly significant effects between the employees’ identified motivations and intrinsic motivations, and between their perceptions on their firms’ socially responsible practices and their intrinsic motivations. The mediation analysis indicated that these two constructs were indirectly affecting the employees’ job performance. These results suggest that although previous studies reported that extrinsic factors could undermine the intrinsic motivations of individuals [35–37], this study found that the research participants have internalized and identified themselves with their employers’ extrinsically motivated regulations, as they enabled them to achieve their self-defining goals. In this case, the respondents indicated that they were willing to perform certain tasks, as they perceived that their utilitarian values were also sustaining their psychological well-being and self-evaluations. The employees also identified motivations that led as an incentive to increase their organizational performance. The empirical results have proved that the employees were motivated to work for firms that reflected their own values [60,77]. This research is consistent with other contributions on CSR behaviors [32,78,88,90,91]. The respondents suggested that their employers had high CSR credentials. The findings revealed that the businesses’ CSR practices enhanced their employees’ intrinsic motivations and satisfied their psychological needs of belongingness and relatedness. Evidently, the firms’ socially responsible behaviors were enhancing their employees’ productivity and performance in their workplace environment.

The participants’ beliefs about their job security were also found to be a significant antecedent of their intrinsic motivations. Their perceptions on their job security were affecting their morale at work, in a positive manner [22,61]. During COVID-19, many employees could have experienced reduced business activities. As a result, many businesses could have pressurized their employees in their organizational restructuring and/or by implementing revised conditions of employment, including reduced working times, changes in sick leave policies, et cetera, particularly during the first wave of the pandemic. However, despite these contingent issues, the research participants indicated that they perceived that there will be job continuity for them in the foreseeable future. This study indicated that many employees were optimistic about their job prospects during the second wave.

The findings suggest that employees are attracted by and motivated to work for trustworthy, socially responsible employers [43,62,66,75]. On the other hand, they reported that the participants’ introjected and external motivations were not having a significant effect on their intrinsic motivations and did not entice them to engage in productive behaviors during the COVID-19 crisis. A plausible justification for this result is that the participants were well aware that their employers did not have adequate and sufficient resources during COVID-19. Their employers were not in a position to reward or incentivize their employees due to financial constraints that resulted from their reduced business activities or were never prepared to deal with such an unprecedented contingent situation. Hence, external motivations were not considered as stable forms of regulation [36]. Many researchers noted that extrinsic motivations will not necessarily influence the individuals’ behaviors, as their perceived locus of control is external to them. Therefore, their actions will not be autonomous and self-determined [35,52].

Managerial Implications
Businesses are continuously affected by ongoing challenges arising from their macro environment. The pandemic has exacerbated their transformation on behavioral, cultural and organizational levels. The first wave of COVID-19 was devastating for many businesses, in different contexts. The social-distancing procedures have led to changes in their working conditions and diminished communications. Many of the non-essential businesses were expected to follow their government’s preventative measures to slow the spread of the pandemic and to close the doors to their customers. Moreover, several employees have experienced their employers’ cost cutting exercises, as they reduced salaries and wages. These uncertainties have affected their employees’ psychological capital and caused them anxiety and frustration [99]. Notwithstanding, many employees were concerned about their job security and long-term prospects. During the work-from-home scenario, employers had to finds new ways to manage their employees’ performance. The change in their working environment allowed them to do their work, whilst also attending to personal needs. Very often, employees found themselves taking other responsibilities including parenting/schooling their children.

Remote working has served as a reminder to managers that there are a number of non-work-related factors that can affect their employees’ mindsets and engagement levels. Hence, many employers set virtual meetings with their human resources to inject a sense of purpose in them. During the first wave of the pandemic, the employees’ intrinsic motivations have declined with the decreasing visibility of their management or colleagues. The lack of motivation could have led to a decrease in their productivity levels [3]. Therefore, employers were expected to look after their employees and to foster a culture of trust and recognition to improve their motivations and performance at work [64]. This study was carried out during the second wave, when many governments had eased their preventative restrictions to restart their economy. As a result, many employees were returning to work. They were encouraged to work in a new normal, where they were instructed to follow their employers’ health and safety policies as well as hygienic and sanitizing practices in their premises. They introduced hygienic practices, temperature checks and expected visitors to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus.

Many businesses, including SMEs and startups, were benefiting of their governments’ financial assistance. Resources were allocated to support them in their cashflow requirements, to minimize layoffs and to secure the employment of many employees. These measures instilled confidence in employers, as they provided their employees with a sense of relatedness, competence and autonomy in their workplace environments. Evidently, employers were successful in fostering a cohesive culture where they identified their employees’ values and their self-determined goals [45]. In sum, this contribution revealed that employees felt a sense of belonging in their workplace environment. The results confirmed that their intrinsic motivations were enhancing their productivity levels and organizational performance.

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The market for socially responsible investing

This is an excerpt from my latest paper, entitled: “The market for socially responsible investing: A review of the developments”. 

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The market for socially responsible investing: A review of the developments. Social Responsibility Journal. DOI. 10.1108/SRJ-06-2019-0194.


There are various ratings and reference indices that are utilized by investors to evaluate financial and SRI portfolios (Scalet and Kelly, 2010). Typically, the SRI indices constitute a relevant proxy as they evaluate the ESG performance of listed businesses (Joliet and Titova, 2018; Le Sourd, 2011). A large number of SR contractors, analysts and research firms are increasingly specializing in the collection of ESG information as they perform ongoing analyses of corporate behaviors (Dumas and Louche, 2016). Many of them maintain a database and use it to provide their clients with a thorough ESG analysis (including proxy advice), benchmarks and engagement strategies of corporations. They publish directories of ethical and SRI funds, as they outline their investment strategies, screening criteria, and voting policies (Leite and Cortez, 2014). In a sense, these data providers support the responsible investors in their selection of funds.

 

SRI Indices, Ratings and Information Providers

KLD / Jantzi Global Environmental Index, Jantzi Research, Ethical Investment Research Service (Vigeo EIRIS) and Innovest (among others) analyze the corporations’ socially responsible and environmentally-sound behaviors as reported in Table 1. Some of their indices (to name a few) shed light about the impact of products (e.g. resource use, waste), the production processes (e.g. logging, pesticides), or proactive corporate activities (e.g. clean energy, recycling). Similarly, social issues are also a common category for these contractors. In the main, the SRI indices benchmark different types of firms hailing from diverse industries and sectors. They adjust their weighting for specific screening criteria as they choose which firms to include (or exclude) from their indices (Leite and Cortez, 2014; Scalet and Kelly, 2010). One of the oldest SRI indices for CSR and Sustainability ratings is the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The companies that are featured in the Dow Jones Indices are analyzed by the Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) Group (i.e. a Swiss asset management company). Another popular SRI index is FTSE Russell’s KLD’s Domini 400 Social Index (also known as the KLD400) which partners with the Financial Times on a range of issues. Similarly, the Financial Times partners with an ESG research firm (i.e. EIRES) to construct its FTSE4 Good Index series. Smaller FTSE Responsible Investment Indices include the Catholic Values Index, the Calvert Social Index, the FTSE4Good indices, and the Dow Jones family of SRI Indices, among others. The KLD400 index screens the companies’ performance on a set of ESG criteria. It eliminates those companies that are involved in non-eligible industries. Impax, a specialist finance house (that focuses on the markets for cleaner or more efficient delivery of basic services of energy, water and waste) also maintain a group of FTSE Indices that are related to environmental technologies and business activities (FTSE Environment Technology and Environmental Opportunities). The Catholic Values Index uses the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines (i.e. positive screening approach) to scrutinize eligible companies (e.g., corporations with generous wage and benefit policies, or those who create environmentally beneficial technologies). This index could also exclude certain businesses trading in “irresponsible” activities. listed businesses according to their social audit of four criteria: the company’s products, their impact on the environment, labor relations, and community relations. The latter “community relations” variable includes issues such as the treatment of indigenous people, provision of local credit, operations of overseas subsidiaries, and the like. The responsible companies are then featured in the Index when and if they meet Calvert’s criteria. This index also maintains a target economic sector weighting scheme. Other smaller indices include; Ethibel Sustainability Index for Belgian (and other European) companies and OMX GES Ethical Index for Scandinavian companies, among others.

 

Table 1. Screenings of Responsible Investments

Positive Screens Negative Screens
Community Investment Alcohol
Employment / Equality Animal Testing
Environment Defence / Weapons
Human Rights Gambling
Labour Relations Tobacco
Proxy Voting

 

Generally, these SRI indices are considered as investment benchmarks. In a nutshell, SRI Indices have spawned a range of products, including index mutual funds, ETFs, and structured products (Riedl and Smeets, 2017). A wide array of SRI mutual funds regularly evaluate target companies and manage their investment portfolios. Therefore, they are expected to consider other important criteria such as risk and return targets (Trinks et al., 2018; Leite and Cortez, 2015; Humphrey and Lee, 2011). For instance, iShares lists two ETFs based on the KLD Index funds, and the Domini itself offers a number of actively managed mutual funds based on both ESG and community development issues (such as impact investments). In addition, there are research and ratings vendors who also manage a series of mutual funds, including Calvert and Domini (Scalet and Kelly, 2010).

 

Discussion

The SRI indices serve as a ‘seal of approval’ function for the responsible businesses that want to prove their positive impact investment credentials to their stakeholders. Currently, there are many factors that may be contributing for the growth of SRI:

 

Firstly, one of the most important factors for the proliferation of SRI is the access to information. Today’s investors are increasingly using technologies, including mobile devices and their related applications to keep them up to date on the most recent developments in business and society. Certain apps inform investors on the latest movements in the financial markets, in real-time. Notwithstanding, the SRI contractors are providing much higher quality data than ever before. As a result, all investors are in a position to take informed decisions that are based on evidence and research. Investors and analysts use “extra-financial information” to help them analyze investment decisions (GRI, 2019; Diouf and Boiral, 2017). This “extra-financial information” includes ESG disclosures on non-financial issues (Brooks and Oikonomou, 2018). These sources of information will encourage many businesses and enterprises to report on their responsible and sustainable practices (Diouf and Boiral, 2017). The companies’ integrated thinking could be a precursor for their integrated reporting (Camilleri, 2018; 2017b; GRI, 2019). Business can use integrated disclosures, where they provide details on their financial as well as on their non-financial information for the benefit of prospective investors and analysts, among other stakeholders.

 

Secondly, the gender equality issue has inevitably led to some of the most significant developments in the financial services industry. Nowadays, there are more emancipated women who are in employment, who are gainfully occupied as they are actively contributing in the labor market. Many women are completing higher educational programs and attaining relevant qualifications including MBA programs. Very often, these women move their way up the career ladder with large organizations. They may even become members on boards of directors and assume fiduciary duties and responsibilities. Other women are becoming entrepreneurs as they start their own business. During the last decades, an increased equality in the developed economies has led to SRI’s prolific growth. As a result, women are no longer the only the beneficiaries of social finance, as they are building a complete ecosystem of social investing (Maretick, 2015). “By 2020 women are expected to hold $72trn, 32% of the total. Most of the private wealth that changes hands in the coming decades is likely to go to women (The Economist, 2018). This wave of wealth is set to land in the laps of female investors who have shown positive attitudes toward social investing, when compared to their male counterparts. Maretick (2015) reported that half of the wealthiest women expressed an interest in social and environmental investing when compared to one-third of the wealthy men.

 

Thirdly, today’s investors are increasingly diversifying their portfolio of financial products. The default investment is the market portfolio, which is a value-weighted portfolio of all investable securities (Trinks and Scholtens, 2017). A growing body of evidence suggests that many investors do not necessarily have to sacrifice performance when they invest in socially responsible or environmentally sustainable assets. A relevant literature review denied the contention that social screening could result in corporate underperformance (Trinks and Scholtens, 2017; Lobe and Walkshäusl, 2011; Salaber 2013). Investors have realized that strategic corporate responsibility is congruent with prosperity (Porter and Kramer, 2011; Schueth, 2003). In fact, today’s major asset classes including global, international, domestic equity, balanced and fixed-income categories also comprise top-performing socially responsible mutual funds (Riedl and Smeets, 2017). Therefore, various financial products are reflecting the investors’ values and beliefs (Fritz and von Schnurbein, 2019). Consequentially, the broad range of competitive socially responsible investment options have resulted in diverse, well-balanced portfolios. In the U.S. and in other western economies, top-performing SRI funds can be found in all major asset classes. More and more investors are realizing that they can add value to their portfolios whilst supporting socially and environmental causes.

 

Fourthly, there are economic justifications for the existence of mutual funds in diversified portfolios. Although SRI funds are rated well above average performers no matter which ranking process one prefers to use (Scalet and Kelly, 2010; Schueth, 2003), other literature suggests that there are situations where the positive or negative screens did not add nor destroy the financial products’ portfolio value (Auer, 2016; Trinks and Scholtens, 2017; Hofmann et al., 2009). This matter can result in having mixed investments where there are SRI products that are marketed with other financial portfolios.

Currently, the financial industry is witnessing a consumer-driven phenomenon as there is a surge in demand for social investments. This paper mentioned a number of organizations that have developed indices to measure the organizational behaviors and their laudable practices. Very often, their metrics rely on positive or negative screens that are used to define socially responsible and sustainable investments (Leite and Cortez, 2014; Hofmann et al., 2009). However, despite these developments, the balanced investors are still investing their portfolio in different industries. As a result, they may be putting their money to support controversial businesses. Perhaps, in the future there could be alternative screening methods in addition to the extant inclusionary and exclusionary approaches. Several corporations are willingly disclosing their integrated reporting of financial and non-financial performance; as stakeholders including investors, demand a higher degree of accountability and transparency from them (Diouf and Boiral, 2017). As a result, a growing number of firms, are recognizing the business case for integrated thinking that incorporates financial and strategic corporate responsible behaviors. They can support the community through positive impact investments by allocating funds to reduce their externalities in society. Alternatively, they may facilitate shareholder activism and advocacy, among other actions (Viviers and Eccles, 2012). In sum, the responsible businesses’ stakeholder engagement as well as their sustainable investments can help them improve their bottom lines, whilst addressing their societal and community deficits.

 

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Viviers, S. and Eccles, N.S. (2012), “35 years of socially responsible investing (SRI) research-general trends over time”, South African Journal of Business Management, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 1-16.

Willis, A. (2003), “The role of the global reporting initiative’s sustainability reporting guidelines in the social screening of investments”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 233-237.

Walker, H. and Brammer, S. (2009), “Sustainable procurement in the United Kingdom public sector”, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 128-137.

 

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What is Corporate Citizenship?

The corporate citizenship term was typically used to describe the corporations that can contribute to the ethical, philanthropic and societal goals. Therefore, this notion is rooted in political science as it directs corporations to respond to non-market pressures.

Throughout the years, the corporate citizenship agenda has been wrought from distinctive corporate social responsibility (CSR) theories and approaches. Its conceptual foundations can be found in the CSR literature (e.g., Carroll, 1979), corporate social responsiveness (e.g., Clarkson, 1995), corporate social performance (e.g., Albinger & Freeman, 2000), the theory of the firm” (McWilliams & Siegel, 2001), stakeholder engagement (Strand & Freeman, 2013); and other enlightened ‘self-interest’ theories; as corporate citizenship can be a source of opportunity, innovation and competitive advantage (Camilleri, 2017a, 2017b; Porter & Kramer, 2006). For this reason, this concept continues to receive specific attention, particularly by those responsible businesses that are differentiating themselves through responsible and sustainable behaviours.

 

Literature Review

The multinational corporations (MNCs) have been (and still are) under pressure to exhibit “good corporate citizenship” in every country or market from where they run their business. MNCs are continuously monitored by their stakeholders, including regulatory authorities, creditors, investors, customers and the community at large. They are also being scrutinised by academic researchers. Several empirical studies have explored the individuals’ attitudes and perceptions toward corporate citizenship. Very often, their measurement involved quantitative analyses that investigated the corporations’ responsible behaviours (Camilleri, 2017a; 2017b). Other research has focused on the managerial perceptions about corporate citizenship (e.g., Basu & Palazzo, 2008). A number of similar studies have gauged corporate citizenship by adopting Fortune’s reputation index (Flanagan, O’Shaughnessy, & Palmer, 2011; Melo & Garrido‐Morgado, 2012), the KLD index (Dupire & M’Zali, 2018; Fombrun, 1998; Griffin & Mahon, 1997) or Van Riel and Fombrun’s (2007) Reptrak. Such measures expected the surveyed executives to assess the extent to which their company behaves responsibly toward the environment and the community (Fryxell and Wang, 1994).

Despite the wide usage of such measures in past research, the appropriateness of these indices still remains doubtful. For instance, Fortune’s reputation index failed to account for the multidimensionality of the corporate citizenship construct; as it is suspected to be more significant of management quality than of corporate citizenship (Waddock & Graves, 1997). Fortune’s past index suffered from the fact that its items were not based on theoretical arguments as they did not appropriately represent the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary dimensions of the corporate citizenship construct.

Pinkston and Carroll (1994) identified four dimensions of corporate citizenship, including; orientations, stakeholders, issues and decision-making autonomy. They argued that by observing orientations, one may better understand the inclinations or the posturing behaviours of organisations with respect to corporate citizenship. Pinkston and Carroll (1994) sought to identify the stakeholder groups that are benefiting from the businesses’ corporate citizenship practices. They argued that the businesses’ decision-making autonomy determined at what organisational level they engaged in corporate citizenship. In a similar vein, Griffin and Mahon (1997) combined four estimates of corporate citizenship: Fortune’s reputation index, the KLD index, the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), and the rankings that are provided in the Directory of Corporate Philanthropy.

Singh, De los Salmones Sanchez and Rodriguez del Bosque (2007) adopted a multidimensional perspective on three domains, including; commercial responsibility, ethical responsibility and social responsibility. Firstly, they proposed that the commercial responsibility construct relates to the businesses’ responsibility to develop high quality products and truthful marketing communications of their products’ attributes and features among customers. Secondly, they maintained that ethical responsibility is concerned with the businesses fulfilling their obligations toward their shareholders, suppliers, distributors and other agents with whom they make their dealings. Singh et al. (2007) argued that ethical responsibility involves the respect for the human rights and norms that are defined in the law when carrying out business activities. They hinted that respecting ethical principles in business relationships has more priority than achieving superior economic performance. Their other domain, social responsibility is concerned about with corporate citizenship initiatives that are characterised by the businesses’ laudable behaviors (Camilleri, 2017c). The authors suggest that the big businesses could allocate part of their budget to the natural environment, philanthropy, or toward social works that supported the most vulnerable groups in society. This perspective supports the development of financing social and/or cultural activities and is also concerned with improving societal well-being (Singh et al., 2007).

Conclusion

There are several actors within a society, including the government and policy makers, businesses, marketplace stakeholders and civil society organisations among others (Camilleri, 2015). It is within this context that a relationship framework is required to foster corporate citizenship practices in order to enhance the businesses’ legitimacy amongst stakeholders (Camilleri, 2017; Camilleri, 2018). The corporate citizenship practices including socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices may be triggered by the institutional and/or stakeholder pressures.

 

References

Albinger, H.S. & Freeman, S.J. (2000). Corporate social performance and attractiveness as an employer to different job seeking populations. Journal of Business Ethics, 28(3), 243-253.

Basu, K. & Palazzo, G. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: A process model of sensemaking, Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 122-136.

Camilleri, M. A. (2015). Valuing stakeholder engagement and sustainability reporting. Corporate Reputation Review18(3), 210-222.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017a). Corporate citizenship and social responsibility policies in the United States of America. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8(1), 77-93.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017b). Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in the United States of America. In Corporate Social Responsibility in Times of Crisis (pp. 129-143). Springer, Cham.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017c). Corporate sustainability and responsibility: creating value for business, society and the environment. Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility2(1), 59-74.

Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Theoretical insights on integrated reporting: The inclusion of non-financial capitals in corporate disclosures. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 23(4) 567-581.

Carroll, A.B. (1979). A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4), 497-505.

Dupire, M., & M’Zali, B. (2018). CSR strategies in response to competitive pressures. Journal of Business Ethics148(3), 603-623.

Flanagan, D. J., O’shaughnessy, K. C., & Palmer, T. B. (2011). Re-assessing the relationship between the Fortune reputation data and financial performance: overwhelming influence or just a part of the puzzle?. Corporate Reputation Review14(1), 3-14.

Fombrun, C.J. (1998). Indices of corporate reputation: An analysis of media rankings and social monitors’ ratings. Corporate Reputation Review, 1(4), 327-340.

Griffin J.J. & Mahon, J.F. (1997). The corporate social performance and corporate financial performance debate twenty-five years of incomparable research. Business & Society, 36(1), 5-31.

McWilliams, A. & Siegel, D. (2001). Corporate social responsibility: A theory of the firm perspective, Academy of Management Review, 26(1), 117-127.

Melo, T., & Garrido‐Morgado, A. (2012). Corporate reputation: A combination of social responsibility and industry. Corporate social responsibility and environmental management19(1), 11-31.

Pinkston, T.S. & Carroll, A.B. (1994). Corporate citizenship perspectives and foreign direct investment in the US. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(3), 157-169.

Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard business review84(12), 78-92.

Strand, R. & Freeman, R.E. (2013). Scandinavian cooperative advantage: The theory and practice of stakeholder engagement in Scandinavia, Journal of Business Ethics, 127(1), 65-85.

Singh, J. & Del Bosque, I.R. (2008). Understanding corporate social responsibility and product perceptions in consumer markets: A cross-cultural evaluation. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(3), 597-611.

Van Riel, C.B. & Fombrun, C.J. (2007). Essentials of corporate communication: Implementing practices for effective reputation management, Routledge, Oxford, UK and New York, USA.

Waddock, S.A. & Graves, S.B. (1997). The corporate social performance-financial performance link, Strategic Management Journal, 18(4), 303-319.


This is an excerpt from one of my contributions that will appear in Springer’s Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management.

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Promoting strategic corporate social responsibility among practitioners

What is Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility?

Organisations engage in Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (Strategic CSR) when they integrate responsible behaviours in their corporate practices (Camilleri, 2018; Porter & Kramer, 2011). Therefore, Strategic CSR is often evidenced by the businesses’ engagement with key stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, regulatory authorities and communities as their non-financial activities can have an effect on society and the natural environment (Camilleri, 2017a). The ultimate goal of strategic CSR is to create both economic and social value (Carroll & Shabana, 2010; Falck & Heblich, 2007).


Introduction

The businesses’ CSR practices may result in a sustained competitive advantage if they are willing to forge strong relationships with their stakeholders (Camilleri, 2015a; Freeman,  & McVea, 2001). Therefore, businesses ought to communicate with employees, customers, suppliers, regulatory stakeholders as well as with their surrounding community (EU, 2016; Bhattacharya, Korschun & Sen, 2009). Positive stakeholder relationships can lead to an improved organizational performance, in the long run (Camilleri, 2015a).

The most successful businesses are increasingly promoting the right conditions of employment for their employees, within their supply chains (Camilleri, 2017b). They are also instrumental in improving the lives of their suppliers (Camilleri, 2017c; Porter & Kramer, 2011). They do so as they would like to enhance the quality and attributes of their products or services; which are ultimately delivered to customers and consumers. Hence, their long-term investments on strategic CSR activities are likely to yield financial returns for them. At the same time they will add value to society (McWilliams et al., 2006; Falck & Heblich, 2007). Therefore, the strategic CSR involves the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible practices they are re-aligned with the businesses’ profit motives (Camilleri, 2017b,c).


Key Theoretical Underpinnings

The Strategic CSR perspective resonates well with the agency theory. In the past, scholars argued that the companies’ only responsibility was to maximise their owners’ and shareholders’ wealth (Levitt, 1958; Friedman, 1970). Hence, companies were often encouraged to undertake CSR strategies which can bring value to their businesses and to disregard those activities which are fruitless. However, at times, the fulfilment of philanthropic responsibilities can also  benefit the bottom line (Lantos, 2001).

Although, it could be difficult to quantify the returns of responsible behaviours, relevant research has shown that those companies that practiced social and environmental responsibility did well by doing good (Falck & Heblich, 2007, Porter & Kramer, 2011).Some of the contributions on this topic suggest that corporate philanthropy should be deeply rooted in the firms’ competences and linked to their business environment (Camilleri, 2015; Porter & Kramer, 2002; Godfrey, 2005). Many authors often referred to the CSR’s core domains (economic, legal and ethical responsibilities) that were compatible and consistent with the relentless call for the business case of CSR (Camilleri, 2015b; Carroll & Shabana, 2010, Vogel, 2005).

Many commentators argued that the strategic CSR practices may result in a new wave of social benefits as well as gains for the businesses themselves (Fombrun et al., 2000; Porter & Kramer, 2011) rather than merely acting on well-intentioned impulses or by reacting to outside pressures (Van Marrewijk, 2003). Lozano (2015) indicated that the business case is the most important driver for CSR engagement. Thus, proper incentives may encourage managers ‘to do well by doing good’ (Falck & Heblich, 2007). If it is a company’s goal to survive and prosper, it can do nothing better than to take a long-term view and understand that if it treats society well, society will return the favour. Companies could direct their discretionary investments to areas (and cost centres) that are relevant to them (Gupta & Sharma, 2009). The reconciliation of shareholder and other stakeholders addresses the perpetual relationship between business and society, as companies are expected to balance the conflicting stakeholder interests for long term sustainability (Orlitzky et al., 2011; Camilleri, 2017c; Camilleri 2019).

 

Conclusion
Many companies are increasingly recognising the business case for CSR as they allocate adequate and sufficient resources to financial and non-financial activities that will ultimately benefit their stakeholders. Their motivation behind their engagement in strategic CSR practices is to increase their profits and to create shareholder value. At the same time, they strengthen their competitive advantage through stakeholder management.

References

Bhattacharya CB, Korschun D, Sen S (2009). Strengthening stakeholder–company relationships through mutually beneficial corporate social responsibility initiatives. J Bus Ethics 85(2):257–272.

Camilleri, M.A. (2015a). Valuing Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting. Corporate Reputation Review, 18 (3), 210-222.

Camilleri, M.A. (2015b) The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility. In Menzel Baker, S. & Mason, M.(Eds.) Marketing & Public Policy as a Force for Social Change Conference. (Washington D.C., 4th June). Proceedings, pp. 8-14, American Marketing Association.

Camilleri M.A. (2017a) Corporate sustainability, social responsibility and environmental management: an introduction to theory and practice with case studies. Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Camilleri, M.A. (2017b). Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility Policies in the United States of America. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal. 8 (1), 77-93.

Camilleri, M.A. (2017c). The Rationale for Responsible Supply Chain Management and Stakeholder Engagement. Journal of Global Responsibility. 8 (1), 111-126.

Camilleri, M.A. (2018). The SMEs’ Technology Acceptance of Digital Media for Stakeholder Engagement. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development.  26(4), 504-521.

Camilleri, M.A. (2019). Measuring the corporate managers’ attitudes toward ISO’s social responsibility standard. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence. 30(14), 1549-1561.

Carroll AB, Shabana KM (2010). The business case for corporate social responsibility: a review of concepts, research and practice. Int J Manag Rev 12(1):85–105.

European Union (2016). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the EU. European Commission Publications, Brussels, Belgium http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=331.

Falck O, Heblich S (2007). Corporate social responsibility: doing well by doing good. Business Horizons 50(3):247–254.

Freeman, R. E., & McVea, J. (2001). A stakeholder approach to strategic management. The Blackwell handbook of strategic management, 189-207.

Friedman M (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times Magazine 13:32–33.

Godfrey PC (2005). The relationship between corporate philanthropy and shareholder wealth: a risk management perspective. Acad Manag Rev 30(4):777–798.

Gupta S, Sharma N (2009). CSR-A business opportunity. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations:396–401.

Lantos GP (2001). The boundaries of strategic corporate social responsibility. J Consum Mark 18(7):595–632.

Levitt T (1958). The dangers of social-responsibility. Harv Bus Rev 36(5):41–50.

Lozano R (2015). A holistic perspective on corporate sustainability drivers. Corp Soc Responsib Environ Manag 22(1): 32–44.

Orlitzky M, Siegel DS, Waldman DA (2011). Strategic corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. Business & society 50(1):6–27.

Porter ME, Kramer MR (2011). Creating shared value. Harv Bus Rev 89(1/2):62–77.

Van Marrewijk M (2003). Concepts and definitions of CSR and corporate sustainability: between agency and communion. J Bus Ethics 44(2):95–105.

Vogel DJ (2005). Is there a market for virtue? The business case for corporate social responsibility. Calif Manag Rev 47(4):19–45.

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Announcing a Call for Chapters (for Springer)

Strategic Corporate Communication and Stakeholder Engagement in the Digital Age

 

Abstract submission deadline: 30th September 2019
Full chapters due: 31st December 2019

 

Background

The latest advances in technologies and networks have been central to the expansion of electronic content across different contexts. Contemporary communication approaches are crossing boundaries as new media are offering both challenges and opportunities. The democratisation of the production and dissemination of information via the online technologies has inevitably led individuals and organisations to share content (including images, photos, news items, videos and podcasts) via the digital and social media. Interactive technologies are allowing individuals and organisations to co-create and manipulate electronic content. At the same time, they enable them to engage in free-flowing conversations with other online users, groups or virtual communities (Camilleri, 2017). Innovative technologies have empowered the organisations’ stakeholders, including; employees, investors, customers, local communities, government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as the news media, among others. Both internal and external stakeholders are in a better position to scrutinise the organisations’ decisions and actions. For this reason, there is scope for the practitioners to align their corporate communication goals and activities with the societal expectations (Camilleri, 2015; Gardberg & Fombrun, 2006). Therefore, organisations are encouraged to listen to their stakeholders. Several public interest organisations, including listed businesses, banks and insurance companies are already sharing information about their financial and non-financial performance in an accountable and transparent manner. The rationale behind their corporate disclosures is to develop and maintain strong and favourable reputations among stakeholders (Camilleri, 2018; Cornelissen, 2008). The corporate reputation is “a perceptual representation of a company’s past actions and future prospects that describe the firm’s overall appeal to all of its key constituents when compared to other leading rivals” (Fombrun, 1996).

Business and media practitioners ought to be cognisant about the strategic role of corporate communication in leveraging the organisations’ image and reputation among stakeholders (Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007). They are expected to possess corporation communication skills as they need to forge relationships with different stakeholder groups (including employees, customers, suppliers, investors, media, regulatory authorities and the community at large). They have to be proficient in specialist areas, including; issues management, crises communication as well as in corporate social responsibility reporting, among other topics. At the same time, they should be aware about the possible uses of different technologies, including; artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, big data analytics, blockchain and internet of things, among others; as these innovative tools are disrupting today’s corporate communication processes.

 

Objective

This title shall explain how strategic communication and media management can affect various political, economic, societal and technological realities. Theoretical and empirical contributions can shed more light on the existing structures, institutions and cultures that are firmly founded on the communication technologies, infrastructures and practices. The rapid proliferation of the digital media has led both academics and practitioners to increase their interactive engagement with a multitude of stakeholders. Very often, they are influencing regulators, industries, civil society organisations and activist groups, among other interested parties. Therefore, this book’s valued contributions may include, but are not restricted to, the following topics:

 

Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Communication

Augmented and Virtual Reality in Corporate Communication

Blockchain and Corporate Communication

Big Data and Analytics in Corporate Communication

Branding and Corporate Reputation

Corporate Communication via Social Media

Corporate Communication Policy

Corporate Culture

Corporate Identity

Corporate Social Responsibility Communications

Crisis, Risk and Change Management

Digital Media and Corporate Communication

Employee Communications

Fake News and Corporate Communication

Government Relationships

Integrated Communication

Integrated Reporting of Financial and Non-Financial Performance

Internet Technologies and Corporate Communication

Internet of Things and Corporate Communication

Investor Relationships

Issues Management and Public Relations

Leadership and Change Communication

Marketing Communications

Measuring the Effectiveness of Corporate Communications

Metrics for Corporate Communication Practice

Press and Media Relationships

Stakeholder Management and Communication

Strategic Planning and Communication Management

 

This publication shall present the academics’ conceptual discussions that cover the contemporary topic of corporate communication in a concise yet accessible way. Covering both theory and practice, this publication shall introduce its readers to the key issues of strategic corporate communication as well as stakeholder management in the digital age. This will allow prospective practitioners to critically analyse future, real-life situations. All chapters will provide a background to specific topics as the academic contributors should feature their critical perspectives on issues, controversies and problems relating to corporate communication.

This authoritative book will provide relevant knowledge and skills in corporate communication that is unsurpassed in readability, depth and breadth. At the start of each chapter, the authors will prepare a short abstract that summarises the content of their contribution. They are encouraged to include descriptive case studies to illustrate real situations, conceptual, theoretical or empirical contributions that are meant to help aspiring managers and executives in their future employment. In conclusion, each chapter shall also contain a succinct summary that should outline key implications (of the findings) to academia and / or practitioners, in a condensed form. This will enable the readers to retain key information.

 

Target Audience

This textbook introduces aspiring practitioners as well as under-graduate and post-graduate students to the subject of corporate communication – in a structured manner. More importantly, it will also be relevant to those course instructors who are teaching media, marketing communications and business-related subjects in higher education institutions, including; universities and colleges. It is hoped that course conveners will use this edited textbook as a basis for class discussions.

 

Submission Procedure

Senior and junior academic researchers are invited to submit a 300-word abstract on or before the 30th June 2019. Submissions should be sent to Mark.A.Camilleri@um.edu.mt. Authors will be notified about the editorial decision during July 2019. The length of the chapters should be between 6,000- 8,000 words (including references, figures and tables). These contributions will be accepted on or before the 31st December 2019. The references should be presented in APA style (Version 6). All submitted chapters will be critically reviewed on a double-blind review basis. The authors’ and the reviewers’ identities will remain anonymous. All authors will be requested to serve as reviewers for this book. They will receive a notification of acceptance, rejection or suggested modifications – on or before the 15th February 2020.

Note: There are no submission or acceptance fees for the publication of this book. All abstracts / proposals should be submitted via the editor’s email.

 

Editor

Mark Anthony Camilleri (Ph.D. Edinburgh)
Department of Corporate Communication,
Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences,
University of Malta, MALTA.
Email: mark.a.camilleri@um.edu.mt

 

Publisher

Following the double-blind peer review process, the full chapters will be submitted to Springer Nature for final review. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit https://www.springer.com/gp. This prospective publication will be released in 2020.

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