The comparison of corporate social performance with corporate financial performance has been a popular field of study over the past 25 years. The results, while broadly conclusive of a positive relationship, are not entirely consistent. In addition, most of the previous studies have concentrated on large-scale cross-industry studies and often with a single variable for corporate social performance, in order to produce statistically significant results. This weakens the richness of understanding that might be obtained from a single industry study with multiple social variables, which would also allow investigation of inter-relationships between individual and sub-sets of social performance measures and between individual and sub-sets of social performance and financial performance measures. There have also been criticisms that the results lack a rigorous theoretical basis, and the paper demonstrates clearly how stakeholder theory must form the basis for this area of research. Following a review of the literature this paper presents the initial findings from a study of the U.K. Supermarket industry which suggest that contemporaneous social and financial performance are negatively related, while prior-period financial performance is positively related with subsequent social performance. Positive relationships between both age and size of the company with social performance are also found.
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Moore, G. Corporate Social and Financial Performance: An Investigation in the U.K. Supermarket Industry. Journal of Business Ethics 34, 299–315 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012537016969