CSR: An Agenda for the Future

Herman Aguinis, Indiana University, and Ante Glavas, University of Notre Dame, published “What We Know and Don’t Know About Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review and Research Agenda” on March 1, 2012 in the Journal of Management. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

The authors review the corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature based on 588 journal articles and 102 books and book chapters. They offer a multilevel and multidisciplinary theoretical framework that synthesizes and integrates the literature at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels of analysis. The framework includes reactive and proactive predictors of CSR actions and policies and the outcomes of such actions and policies, which they classify as primarily affecting internal (i.e., internal outcomes) or external (i.e., external outcomes) stakeholders. The framework includes variables that explain underlying mechanisms (i.e., relationship- and value-based mediator variables) of CSR–outcomes relationships and contingency effects (i.e., people-, place-, price-, and profile-based moderator variables) that explain conditions under which the relationship between CSR and its outcomes change. The authors’ review reveals important knowledge gaps related to the adoption of different theoretical orientations by researchers studying CSR at different levels of analysis, the need to understand underlying mechanisms linking CSR with outcomes, the need for research at micro levels of analysis (i.e., individuals and teams), and the need for methodological approaches that will help address these substantive knowledge gaps. Accordingly, they offer a detailed research agenda for the future, based on a multilevel perspective that aims to integrate diverse theoretical frameworks as well as develop an understanding of underlying mechanisms and microfoundations of CSR (i.e., foundations based on individual action and interactions). The authors also provide specific suggestions regarding research design, measurement, and data-analytic approaches that will be instrumental in carrying out their proposed research agenda.

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