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The association between corporate social-responsibility and financial performance: The paradox of social cost

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Abstract

It is generally assumed that common stock investors are exclusively interested in earning the highest level of future cash-flow for a given amount of risk. This view suggests that investors select a well-diversified portfolio of securities to achieve this goal. Accordingly, it is often assumed that investors are unwilling to pay a premium for corporate behavior which can be described as “socially-responsible”.

Recently, this view has been under increasing attack. According to the Social Investment Forum, at least 538 institutional investors now allocate funds using social screens or criteria. In addition, Alice Tepper Marlin, president of the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities has recently estimated that about $600 billion of invested funds are socially-screened (1992).

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MOSES L. PAVA is Associate Professor of Accounting and the Alvin Einbender Chair in Business Ethics at the Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University. His research interests include financial reporting and business ethics. He has recently published articles in the Journal of Accountancy, Management Accounting, The Financial Executive, and Journal of Applied Business Research. His first book, The Shareholder's Use of Corporate Annual Reports, was published in 1993.

JOSHUA KRAUSZ is Gershon and Merle Stern Professor of Banking and Finance at the Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University. His research interests are in the areas of financial analysis, ethics and social responsibility, financial accounting, options and derivatives, price behavior, capital budgeting and taxation. He has published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, The Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Accounting Horizons, Applied Economics, The Journal of Extractive Industries Accounting, and The Mid-Atlantic Journal of Business.

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Pava, M.L., Krausz, J. The association between corporate social-responsibility and financial performance: The paradox of social cost. J Bus Ethics 15, 321–357 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00382958

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