, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 111-132
Date: 17 Oct 2006

Corporate Social Responsibility and Resource-Based Perspectives

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Firms engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) because they consider that some kind of competitive advantage accrues to them. We contend that resource-based perspectives (RBP) are useful to understand why firms engage in CSR activities and disclosure. From a resource-based perspective CSR is seen as providing internal or external benefits, or both. Investments in socially responsible activities may have internal benefits by helping a firm to develop new resources and capabilities which are related namely to know-how and corporate culture. In effect, investing in social responsibility activities and disclosure has important consequences on the creation or depletion of fundamental intangible resources, namely those associated with employees. The external benefits of CSR are related to its effect on corporate reputation. Corporate reputation can be understood as a fundamental intangible resource which can be created or depleted as a consequence of the decisions to engage or not in social responsibility activities and disclosure. Firms with good social responsibility reputation may improve relations with external actors. They may also attract better employees or increase current employees’ motivation, morale, commitment and loyalty to the firm. This article contributes to the understanding of why CSR may be seen as having strategic value for firms and how RBP can be used in such endeavour.

Manuel Castelo Branco is Invited Lecturer of Accounting at the Faculty of Economics, University of Porto. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Economics and Management, University of Minho. His research has been published in journals such as the Social Responsibility Journal and Corporate Communications: An International Journal.
Lúcia Lima Rodrigues, Ph.D is Associate Professor at the School of Economics and Management, University of Minho. She is the Head of the Department of Management and the Director of the Master in Accounting and Management. She is the Editor of the Portuguese Journal of Accounting and Management, Editor for Europe of the international journal Accounting History. She is referee in several Portuguese and International journals. Her research has been published in several major international journals in Accounting such as The Accounting Historians Journal, Accounting Education: An International Journal, Critical Perspectives on Accounting and Accounting Forum.