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Does corporate social performance pay back quickly? A longitudinal content analysis on international contractors

Liao, Pin-Chao, Shih, Yu-Nien, Wu, Chun-Lin, Zhang, Xiao-Ling, Wang, Yue
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.170 pp. 1328-1337
business planning, construction industry, contractors, corporate social responsibility, corporations, empirical research, finance, risk
Corporations in all parts of the world have begun to develop an increasing awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Most CSR research suggested that corporations which effectively address social responsibilities are more competitive. Despite this benefit, many corporations in the construction industry still neglect engaging in CSR practices. In addition, past empirical research on the association between corporate social performance (CSP) and corporate financial performance (CFP) produced inconsistent results. In response to these academic and practical gaps, this study seeks to clarify the short-term relationship between CSP and CFP, so as to address the popular concern as to whether CSR activities will yield immediate results. To elucidate the nature of this relationship, this study leverages a modified content analysis method to review CSR reports of corporations in the top international contractors list of Engineering News-Record. In particular, a semantic labeling program is applied in content analysis to measure CSP quantitatively. The semantic longitudinal data from 2009 to 2014 reveals a negative association between CSP and CFP within the six years in construction industry. This study provides practitioners with a new basis for evaluating their short-term business plans related to CSR and assists international contractors in determining whether investment in CSR-focused strategies is financially viable. Findings indicate that international contractors should prioritize the CSR issues which they intend to focus on, so as to minimize their financial risks and maximize future CSR performance.