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The Worth of Values – A Literature Review on the Relation Between Corporate Social and Financial Performance

Abstract

One of the older questions in the debate about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is whether it is worthwhile for organizations to pay attention to societal demands. This debate was emotionally, normatively, and ideologically loaded. Up to the present, this question has been an important trigger for empirical research in CSR. However, the answer to the question has apparently not been found yet, at least that is what many researchers state. This apparent ambivalence in CSR consequences invites a literature study that can clarify the debate and allow for the drawing of conclusions. The results of the literature study performed here reveal that there is indeed clear empirical evidence for a positive correlation between corporate social and financial performance. Voices that state the opposite refer to out-dated material. Since the beginnings of the CSR debate, societies have changed. We can therefore clearly state that, for the present Western society, “Good Ethics is Good Business.”

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Laura P. Hartman and an anonymous reviewer for their stimulating comments on former versions of this article. Further thanks go to Martyna Janowicz and Luc van Baest for their comments throughout the research project and to the students of Masters Circle on Corporate Social Responsibility at Tilburg University 2006/2007.

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Correspondence to Tobias Gössling.

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Both authors contributed equally to this research. The authors' names appear in alphabetical order.

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van Beurden, P., Gössling, T. The Worth of Values – A Literature Review on the Relation Between Corporate Social and Financial Performance. J Bus Ethics 82, 407 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-008-9894-x

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Keywords

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Corporate social performance
  • Corporate financial performance
  • Literature review
  • Friedman