Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Center for Business Ethics Tim Bonowski, M.sc
2nd Semester / 2017
Corporate Social Performance as a competitive advantage in
Attracting a quality workforce
New Perspectives on CSR as a strategic management tool
Name: Hamayun Khan
Date of Brith: 25.04.1990
Address: in der krümm 8, 65934
Frankfurt am Main
Dated 11th, August 2017
I, Hamayun Khan, hereby declare that this paper is my own work and has not submitted in same form at my university or in other institute of territory education. Information given in such paper from published and unpublished work of others has been acknowledged in the text and a list of references is given in the bibliography.
table of content
TOC o “1-3” h z u1. Introduction PAGEREF _Toc363998612 h 4
2. Definition of CSP PAGEREF _Toc363998613 h 4
2.1 CSP Model PAGEREF _Toc363998614 h 5
2.2 Decentralization and CSP PAGEREF _Toc363998615 h 6
2.3 CSP and Financial Performance PAGEREF _Toc363998616 h 7
2.4 Effect of CSP on Firm’s Multinationality PAGEREF _Toc363998617 h 8
2.5 CSP and institutional ownership PAGEREF _Toc363998618 h 9
3. Quality workforce PAGEREF _Toc363998619 h 10
3.1 CSP and quality of workforce PAGEREF _Toc363998620 h 11
5. Signaling Theory ; Competitiveness of a Company PAGEREF _Toc363998621 h 13
5.1 Signal theory and CSP PAGEREF _Toc363998622 h 14
5.2 Signals about organizational pride PAGEREF _Toc363998623 h 15
6. Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc363998624 h 15
7. References PAGEREF _Toc363998625 h 17
Corporate Social Performance as a competitive advantage in attracting a quality workforce
1. IntroductionWith each passing minute, the world is getting more and more integrated. Each passing day is leading to the growth of the concept of ‘one big global village’. This is leading to industries expanding their operations beyond the boundaries they were established in. A multinational company now a days generate revenue from not only one country but many at the same time and. Any miscalculated step can have a negative impact on the revenue generation across the spectrum. This is probably one of the downfalls of world becoming a big global village that news can spread like fire and affect the company revenue and share price in no time once the news is leaked or made available to the general public.
As companies are establishing their operations in new localities or countries, they are continuously on a lookout for the policies that can provide them compelling advantage over their competitors. The more resources you have, more flexibility you will have. This is compelling in nature since it decides how much market share you can grab or attract. In past, focus has been on increasing the capital as a resource in order to beat the market and attract large customer base. Companies, which are in growth stage, have tried to use this concept in markets where they feel that a large percentage of the market is still up for grab, people are not sure about the products on offer. This has been beneficial to some extent or in the past it was the most beneficial concept. Lately, since the boundaries are demolished, companies have moved across multiple countries to increase their sale, the focus has shifted to other areas which thinking of ways to outsmart their competitors.
2. Definition of CSPCorporate Social Performance or CSP is a concept that has gathered a lot of pace in the last decade. This concept is growing stronger and stronger with passing time. Companies are basically focusing on delivering benefits to societies and its members. Corporate Social Performance is basically having a positive impact on the societies, employees and consumers in order to improve their image and establish a strong bond with the locals. Unfortunately, there has been no censes about the definition of CSP backed by majority. (Carroll, A. B. 1979) was one of the initial researchers who attempted to define CSP. According to him, CSP was an amalgamation of three concepts i.e. corporate social responsibility, corporate social responsiveness and social issues. Unique aspect of CSP is that it is integrative in nature. This leads to the formation of a framework that is valuable in analyzing not only business but also societies. Focus of CSP is on micro level. It isn’t appropriate in analyzing the world economies (Wartick, S. L., & Cochran, P. L. 1985).
However, a theory explaining this and its model for evaluation purpose has yet to be put forward and backed. There is no “satisfactory definition” of CSP (Wood, 1991). Many researchers and management students back this view. Still, this hasn’t stopped quite a few researchers from putting forward their own concepts regarding CSP that they feel is satisfactory and can be considered universal.
Sethi, S. P. (1979) listed different categories of CSP and also defined them but he failed to define CSP itself. He felt that this isn’t the job of a single person as this concept is quite complex and keeps on changing in nature. Likewise, Preston L.E. (1978) in inaugural volume discussed briefly the concept of CSP but didn’t attempt to provide a universal definition for it. Social control, not CSP, should be used as a variable instead of business and society research. Several researchers attempted to define the model used to calculate CSP but none were as recognized as combined effort by Watrick ; Cochran. The model presented by them was based on earlier research in 1978 by Carroll. (Wartick et. al., 1985) proposed that CSP model was basically an interaction between numerous principles of social responsibility; social responsiveness process and policies that are developed to present social issues. This led to incorporation of different aspects into a single framework that can be used to represent CSP. This was universally backed.
2.1 CSP ModelSince the original model was presented, many researches have attempted to modify it to make it more accurate. However, the original theoretical framework has not changed since it was presented by (Wartick, et. al., 1985). In last three decades prior to the research of Watrick and Cochran, CSP model had evolved a lot in focusing on the social integration. However, three dimensions identified earlier by the researchers have not changed. This model is now implemented to satisfy the social obligations by numerous organizations. They derived that corporate social involvement rests on the fact that each component of the model is distinctive in nature, yet provide perfect integration to address the needs.
(Miles, R. A. 1987) presented a universal theory of corporate social performance to provide a theoretical base to the model. He gave a theory based on strategic management and organization theories. One part of the theory is firms’ external affairs strategy and other is external affairs design. External affairs strategy is defined as philosophy function implemented by the top management of the organization. External strategy design is defined as the business exposure function.
Another CSP model having principle of CSP as it base was represented in 1991. Corporate social responsibility or CSR forms the base of CSP model, and CSR is implemented on multiple levels including individual and organizational stage. At individual level, the focus is on micro level. At this level, managers make decision after carefully evaluating different aspects of the process and thus making decision that is best suited. In simple words, focus is on performing certain tasks and functions whereas on the organizational level, focus is on the specific areas (Wood, D., 1991).
2.2 Decentralization and CSPCSP can be managed using two approaches i.e. centralized and decentralized. Centralized approach is the one in which the power lies with few selective people. They are altogether responsible for decision making thus are responsible for the results. In other words, the more centralized the system is, lower the number of decision makers would be (Wally, S., & Baum, J., 1994). Researchers argue that one of the prime benefits of centralization is that it gathers the information from across the organization and takes decision on a macro level keeping in mind the impact of it on all over the organization. Since this system leads to fewer number of decision makers, this will reduce the probability of any sort of conflict as they will be on the same page while taking a respective decision bearing in mind all sort of results (Miller D., 1987).
There are two important issues with centralized approach. One issue is that this approach relies a lot on the authenticity of the information provided by the lower management. So in case information is false, it can lead to wrong decision and a negative result. Lower management for any reason might not feel appreciated or for some other reason might provide incomplete, inaccurate or out of context information. This can be problematic for decision makers (Aghion, P., & Tiróle, J., 1997). Another issue of greater importance is that increased number of channels through which information is provided to the decision makers can lead to distortion of information. This can change the meaning of the information once it reaches the top management. This flaw can result in a disastrous decision.
All the aforementioned issues regarding centralized system can be overcome by using decentralized approach which involved decision making at the micro-level. In other words, managers are responsible for taking the decisions. This approach involves higher number of decision makers as compared to the centralized approach in which decision making power lies with few people (Carroll, A. B. 1979). Use of decentralized approach leads to less distortion of information as lower number of channels is involved in transmission of the information. Thus the information received by the decision makers is good enough to take optimal decision. Since the decentralized approach involves managers are decision makers, this allows them to gather as much information as they will is sufficiently needed to take the right decision.
2.3 CSP and Financial PerformanceOne of the most important aspects of any level of organization is financial performance. It was considered perhaps the most important result in the past. This has changed in the last few decades but still it remains one of the integral results. In past researchers have carried out multiple studies on find out the impact of CSP on the financial performance of different level of organizations. Results have been varying. A positive relationship was found to exist between CSP and financial performance (Bowman, E, 1978). (Soloman, R. and K. Hansen, 1985) was confirmed that cost of corporate social performance was more than offset by the morale boost of the employees. This led to increased performance of the employees and increased revenue. However researches carried out by Ingram and Frazier (1983) along with that of Freedman and Jaggi (1982) found out that there is a negative relationship between the two. Implementation of CSP leads to unfavorable financial position that is not socially responsive. One of the reasons that these studies gave different sort of results is that they all implemented different methods thus leading to different results (Peter A. Stanwick and Sarah D. Stanwick, 1998).
The cost structure of the organization plays it role too in determining the implementation of CSP. Higher debt equity ratio can restraint the organizations spending on CSP thus will limit the implementation of CSP. (McGuire, J., A. Sundgren and T. Schneeweiss, 1988) found out that financial leverage reflects the financial risk profile of the country. Higher degree of financial leverage implies higher financial risk, this means that paying off debt is high on list and can limit spending pattern of the organization. Therefore, there is a negative relationship between the level of financial leverage and corporate social performance.
2.4 Effect of CSP on Firm’s MultinationalityAs the world is moving towards globalization and large numbers of companies are expanding their operations to different countries thus becoming more global in nature. The numbers of companies or organizations that have operational units across the globe. As the companies are expanding, this is making them more sensitive to the concept of CSP. Implementation cost of CSP depends upon the size of the organization. Larger companies bear higher CSP costs (Pava, M. L. and J. Krausz, 1997) Researchers in past have carried out limited number of researches linking the effect of CSP on multinational nature of an organization. Carroll (2004) summed up the past research and concluded that host nations to which companies expand determine the extent to which CSP is implemented. Since the international clientele varies in nature, multinational organizations face difficulty in implementing CSP. However, higher standards of CSP lead to generation of valuable perceptions of organizational attractiveness (Albinger, H. S. and S. J. Freeman, 2000).
Research has proved that having progressive environmental operations and human resource practices is beneficial and lowers the risk of losing legitimacy in international market (Kostova, T. and S. Zaheer, 1999). Investment in CSP can lead to moral capital that can benefit the organization in improving image and attaining an image. This can be helpful in getting in good books of the locals as well as government. This will increase the customer loyalty and base as well as will help in increase of resources. There is a counter argument that suggests that investing in CSP is not as productive as thought of. Firstly, good citizenship behavior maybe largely exaggerated thus minimizing the benefits when multinational organizations expand their business across the border (Bromley, D. B, 1993). Secondly, implementation of CSP can result in administrative costs that can offset the benefits. Wastage of money, time and effort can few results of this. Thirdly, implementation of CSP can lead to additional constraints thus reducing the competitive edge the organization enjoys in the local market. Example of this is that when an organization from a developed country enters emerging market, it may be at disadvantage for some time due to the fact that its competitors are not bothered with CSP so are not spending on that front whereas it has to implement due to operations in other parts of the world (Cyril Bouquet and Yuval Deutsch, 2008).
2.5 CSP and institutional ownership(Hansen, G. S., ; Hill, C. W. L. 1991) conducted a research that concluded that when it comes down to investment life time, institutional owners are myopic as compared to individual owners. This is because institutions compete with each other so their focus is on generation of the profit in the short run. So this fact leads to problems while implementation of CSP by institutional owners as CSP in long term in nature (Mahapatra, S. 1984).
(Spicer, B. H. 1978) argued that institutional owners try to avoid investment in low risk CSP firm as they fear that this can lead to financial sanctions which can hurt their investment. So when it comes down to selection of companies that are similar in features. Only difference lies between implementation of CSP, investors will select the firm which implements CSP as compared to the one which doesn’t. CSP has lately become important than before solely due to the fact that investors are of opinion that CSP is a risk reducing measure which leads to higher returns (Fama, E. F. 1970).
(Teoh, H. Y., & Shiu, G. Y. 1990) examined the relationship between the attitudes of the institutional owners and corporate social performance. They concluded that institutional investors do not alter their investments solely on the basis of assertions in the annual reports. They only change their investment given that they have some quantitative data rather than qualitative data regarding CSP. However contrary to this, (Coffey, B. S., & Fryxell, G. E. 1991) found out that there is no significant relationship between institutional owners and corporate social performance. They also concluded that there is a positive relationship between CSP and women on board of directors. As the number of women increased so did the commitment level of companies towards CSP. These mixed findings were result of the fact that they did not use usual variables and their study was cross-sectional in nature.
Samuel B. Graves and Sandra A. Waddock (1994) carried out a research to find out the relationship between US companies and corporate social performance. The companies selected were all listed. They concluded that a positive relationship exists. US organizations focus more on the aspects of CSP as compared to their rivals.
3. Quality workforceOver the last couple of decades, companies have shifted their focus onto different areas to find competitive advantage over their rivals. Financial means is no longer viable option as it can be obtained through different means. (Pfeffer, J. 1994) was one of the pioneer researchers how tried to find out the effect of workforce quality. He, like others, concluded that quality of workforce can determine the profitability of the organization as well as competitive advantage. Researchers have concluded that the factors that lead to success or were the indication of a successful organization have changed lately and quality of workforce has become one of the most important factor that determines the organization success.
Although the data shows that quality of workforce is one of the utmost factors that determine the success of the organization but it is not the only significant factor. As quality of workforce is increasingly becoming one of the most important factors, it is forcing organizations to do whatever is possible to attract high quality prospective employees. The determination of the quality of a workforce varies with changing industries. One set of labor might be considered workforce of high quality in a certain industry whereas it may not be considered same in another industry.
Different factors have been used to find out the quality of the workforce. Factors such as intelligence, motivation, experience and vision are one of the key ones (Teece, D. 1998). These prime factors along with others determine the success rate of the firm i.e. how much successful it will be in future in capturing value from the knowledge asset. If the organization has a workforce which is of high quality compared to the industry, this will give it an advantage of outclassing it competitors in short as well as long run.
3.1 CSP and quality of workforceWith the changing nature of the business world, organizations need to thin k out of the box in order to find an edge over their rivals. One of the factors that can help them in achieving competitive edge over their competitors is that they need to have quality workforce which can perform the task in efficient and effective manner. Thus, it reduces the cost and time needed to complete the task.
Organizations are focusing on unique variables in order to pursue prospective employees which they feel will increase the quality of their workforce. (Clarkson, M. B. 1995) stated that since the employees are considered a rare resource and they play an integral part in the success of the company and supremacy over their rivals. Given the competition, organizations face a steep task of attractive highly skillful prospective employees. As a result, organizations have started focusing on other factors such as implementation of corporate social performance in order to make their organization more appealing to the labor force.
Recruitment of quality workforce can provide business a competitive edge over its rivals (Wright,P,Ferris,S.P.,Hiller,J.S.,&Kroll,M.1995). If the workforce of your disposal completes the task in half the time and needs only half the resources then this means that you have a highly skillful workforce. This can lead to increased revenue generation as a result. Alternatively, we can conclude that recruitment process of an organization is of great importance as it defines the characteristics of the workforce. Any flaw in this process can be damaging in the long run and will take more time to repair than flaw in function of any other department.
One of the integral or critical step of the recruitment process is to increase the pursue intention of the job seeker. Pursue intention is defined as “ones’ desire to intention to apply for the announced job”. Organizations which attract highly skillful job seekers will have higher quality of the workforce as compared to the organization whose recruitment process is not as established and doesn’t focus on this aspect of recruitment process.
(Greening, D. W., & Turban, D. B. 2000) conducted a research and found out that organizations which were focusing on implementing CSP were more attractive to potential workforce as compared to those who were not. Signaling theory is helpful in understanding the reason behind this. This theory suggests that as potential employees lack the access to full information so they make decisions based on the information that they receive from public. This information received as termed as “signals”. For examples, organizations social programs targeting skillful employees may be viewed as signal that the organization is fully committed to well-being of its employees and helping them in achieving their individualistic goals.
4. An Increasing Emphasis on CSP
Introduction of the CSP lead organizations to increase their spending and divert their focus to CSP. This lead firm’s to emphasis on meeting their responsibilities towards the stakeholders. Stakeholders are of two types. One is external stakeholder and other type is known as internal stakeholder. External stakeholders are basically those who are not part of the workforce of management. External stakeholder comprises of customers, investors, lenders, suppliers and vendors. These groups are connected to the organization but are not involved in the production or day-to-day operations. Internal stakeholders are the ones who form part of the workforce or the decision making team. These are responsible for taking the decision regarding the product and daily operations in order to improve the process. (Etzioni, A. 1988)
Corporate social performance has been subject for research for number of decades now. The concept of CSP has involved a lot since it was initially researched in 1953 by Bowen. However, Wood’s work in 1991 on CSP is well renowned and it is considered of more importance. Swanson in 1995 and Rowley in 1997 helped us in better understanding the implications of Wood’s work regarding CSP. Swanson,D.L.(1995) reconstructed the Wood’s model to add factors such economic variables. Her focus was on decision making process and how these processes are fused with the ethics and values of the organization. She emphasized not only on the role of values but on the importance of these values.
A number of business and society scholars argue that the concept of stakeholders is of great importance, especially when it comes down to understanding the framework of large CSP models. This concept lays down the foundation of larger CSP model. From the evidence of the data analyzed, it is concluded that the increased number of external and internal stakeholders will help in developing a positive reputation (Fombrun, C. 1996). There is a difference between the image and reputation of the firm. Reputations are harder to alter as they are anchored in the core characteristics of the organization. Organizations spend millions of dollars over a passage of years in order to create a good relationship with the consumers as well as other key stakeholders. According to Formbrun, these stakeholders are employees, suppliers, government agencies, societies etc. Whereas on the other hand image is “a firms’ ability to manage its reputation”. Compared to reputation, this task is bit easy.
5. Signaling Theory & Competitiveness of a Company
Signaling theory is concerned with the reduction of information asymmetry between two make actors, (individuals and organizations). Signaling theory posits that the signaler (the firm sending signal) will engage in purposeful behavior to communicate information that reduces information asymmetry in manner beneficial to the firm. According to Bhattacharya and Dittmar (2004), managers would not announce the good news that they have because all companies could do this without being valid. Theory suggests positive relationship between voluntary disclosure and profitability. (Watson, Shrives, Marston, 2002)
Signaling theory addresses information asymmetries between two parties (individuals or organizations) where the sources of asymmetric information are mainly concerned with information about quality or information about intent (Stiglitz 2000).
Quality concerns how one party shows its unobservable attributes in exchange for a premium from the other party (King et al. 2005; Spence1973). Intent concerns how to reduce the potential moral hazards that result from the behavior of the exchange parties (Holmstrom1979; Sanders and Boivie 2004).
Spence (1973) argues that one party can use observable mechanisms (such as college diplomas) to demonstrate its unobservable characteristics (such as productivity). Inspired by these insights, management scholars have used signaling theory to explain the potential benefits for firms of adopting socially responsible practices (Montiel et al.2012;
Ramchander et al.2012 Turban and Greening 1996)
Competiveness occurs when both businesses located in a location, country or region can meet the international test of competition but at the same time living standard of average peoples can maintain and increase. Both workers and organization would work hard and it’s important to be productive from both sides. Another aspects is a skilled immigrants to gain competitive advantages
5.1 Signal theory and CSPSignal theory is helpful in understanding the attractiveness the potential employees feel when they find out the commitment level of the organization towards CSP implementation. Implementation of CSP is a signal that the organization has values and norms it cares about. This will influence the decision making of the potential employees and help them choose the organization over others. The chance of attracting a skillful worker clearly depends on the correlation between the values of organization and that of the individual. If the individual feels that his or her values match that of the organization then he/she will opt for that organization instead of others.
Research has showed that the recruitment process does provide signals to attract potentially the best available employees of the lot. These processes are based on the use of signal theory or signal models. However, this has been criticized due to under development of the signal model (Cable, D. M., ; Turban, D. B. 2003). Another criticism of this process is that it does not take into account the potential interpretation of the individual job seeker. It does not evaluate the outcomes – the inferences from the signals that are drawn by the potential employees (Celani, A., ; Singh, P. 2010).
Research has showed that people categorize themselves depending on various factors. Organization they work for is one of these factors. It is human nature to be related to something, which makes them proud and gives them sense of ownership. So it is obvious that potential job seekers will opt for the organization which meets their needs and is having good reputation among the general public. So that they can feel satisfied while introducing themselves (Ashforth, B. E., ; Mael, F. 1989). This means that the potential actions taken by the organization not only affect the image of organization but also influence the behavior of the employees. These actions can enhance or destroy their self-concept on feeling of ownership of the employees. As a result, implementation of CSP leads to a positive influence on the employee’s behavior and mindset.
5.2 Signals about organizational prideSignal theory suggests that organization sends out signals or indications to attract job seekers that are of high quality, which improves overall quality of the workforce (Cable, D. M., & Turban, D. B. 2003). With the developing speed of the business world, highly qualified job seekers have ample opportunities to find the best opportunity for themselves. Organizations face more competition than before to attract the best for employment. One of the methods through which the organizations do so is by promoting CSP. Researchers have argued that organizations that have a strong CSP have higher chance of attracting best of the applicants.
(David A. Jones, Chelsea R. Wilson and Sarah Madey. 2014) argue that the organization sends out a signal about CSP, about its prestige, this gives birth to the mechanism of anticipated pride. This phenomenon in turn has a positive impact on the mindset of the applicants thus leading to higher attraction rate. Theory forwarded behind this is that the individuals prefer to work for the organizations where they feel that they will be recognized for their effort and will be proud will revealing their affiliation with the organization to the general public. Public drives sense of self-esteem once they know that the organization they are working for is of good reputation.
(Highouse, Thornbury and Little, 2007) defined a prestigious organization as the one that is “superior or seems superior” relative to other organizations of the same industry. A prestigious organization is basically the leader or considered one that it laying down the marker and setting up the trend. Others follow its footsteps and are impressed by it. There are no hard and fast rule to classify an organization as prestigious other than this that it is considered ahead of the spectrum compared to competitors.
6. ConclusionCorporate social performance or CSP is growing in structure with each passing day. Organizations which are setting up plants or operational units in new countries are focusing on this more than ever before. This is due to the recognition of the fact that public in general is becoming aware of their rights and responsibilities of the organizations operating in their area or locality. This has played its part in forcing the organizations to spend to CSP in order to avoid any legal penalties. Since the world is on the path of integration, this has led to spread of knowledge faster than before. As a result, people are more aware than they were before. This has caused the organizations to fulfil their social obligations in order to keep in mind the effects of not doing so.
The research carried out in past indicate that the applicants get attracted to the organizations that have reputation of implementing CSP. There is a positive relationship between these two. An organization that is renowned for its CSP policies has higher probability of attracting more skillful workforce as compared to the one which is not. (Greening, D. W., & Turban, D. B. 2000) concluded that a positive CSP reputation will help in attracting more skillful workforce. This can help in sustaining competitive advantage as well as improving the image of the organization. Organizations may consider sending out signals, through different means including advertisement, potential employees to attract the best of the lot to maintain their quality of the workforce.
Strength of the signal determines is effectiveness. It depends on the amount of knowledge possessed by the receiver. Provided that the target individual already has the information regarding the working conditions and treatment of the workforce, any signal containing this information will have minimal effect on this individual. Any kind of signal will result in a negative effect on the individuals who possess more information than expected by the organization (David A. Jones, Chelsea R. Wilson and Sarah Madey. 2014)
Implementation of CSP will help the organization in attractive more talented workforce thus will be reduce all sorts of costs, provided that majority if not all competitors are involved in
implementation of CSP. Since implementation of CSP will result in higher costs so organizations need to keep in mind cost benefit analysis in mind. Quality of the workforce is directly
proportional to the implementation of CSP. Organizations which focus on fulfilling their social obligations have higher chance of attracting quality workforce than others.
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