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We selected articles with these key words in their titles, abstracts or contents.For thoroughness, we also referred to bibliographies of numerous reviews of CSR, such as a review of previous studies regarding the linkage between CSP and CFP (Orlitzky et al., 2003), a review of CSP measurement (Wood, 2010) and a review of CSR (Lee, 2008).
Bowen (1953) argued that firms need to understand the importance of business ethics and its contribution to long-term firm performance.
CSR initiatives are very important in the context of business ethics (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004), and a number of interesting findings have attracted the attention of CSR practitioners and scholars.
These include studies that suggest that CSR activities provide an insurancelike protection when negative events occur (Godfrey et al., 2009); that CSR activities influence not only the growth of sales, but also employment (Carmeli, 2005) and investment (Sen et al., 2006); and that firms with higher CSR ratings may have a sustainable competitive advantage in terms of human capital because they attract more and better potential employees than firms with lower CSR ratings (Hunt et al., 1989; Turban and Greening, 1997; Carmeli, 2005).
Consequently, in order to pursue sustainable development and achieve a favourable reputation in a competitive market, an increasing number of companies now put CSR at centre stage when devising strategy and publish CSR disclosures and reports.
Using content analysis, the objectives of the current study are: (1) to provide a systematic review of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature, (2) to examine underlying trends in CSR research, (3) to identify milestones in the development of CSR research, and (4) to clarify and categorise the structure of CSR studies.
An examination of 774 selected CSR articles shows a significant upward trend in the volume of CSR publications, particularly in the 2000s.
There has been an increasing use of content analysis as a rigorous way of exploring many important but difficultto- study issues (Duriau et al., 2007).
Early definitions emphasise the quantitative approach by stating that ‘content analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication’ (Bereson, 19).
There are also many different definitions of CSR as there are many different ways to think about what CSR includes and what it embraces (Carroll and Shabana, 2010).
The current study uses Carroll and Shabana’s (2010) four categories of CSR as this definition has been used successfully for research purposes for over 25 years.