Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Performance

Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Performance

Theories and Evidence about Organizational Responsibility

Tobias Gössling

Does it pay for businesses to act morally? This book attempts to answer this question. Taking a positive approach, it demonstrates that, under certain conditions, organizations can act responsibly and profitably at the same time. It elaborates on these conditions and provides evidence for the assumed positive relation between responsibility and profitability.

Chapter 4: The Profits of Responsibility: A Literature Study on the Financial Consequences of CSR

Tobias Gössling

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, management and sustainability, organisation studies, environment, environmental management


The question whether it is profitable to be a moral person dates back to the very beginnings of moral philosophy. Though philosophers have provided answers to this question, it is still one to debate. Empirically, we can show situations wherein it is highly profitable to behave morally. On the other hand, we can also find examples where the exact opposite is the case. The very same discussion is central to the debate of business ethics. In our working life as researchers and consultants, we often come across the well-known cynical remarks, like ‘is there ethics in business?’ ‘Business ethics? Why not decide for one of the two?’ or ‘There is nothing like a moral economic agent’. It is very understandable that managers as well as business studies scholars ask the question whether it is profitable to conduct a moral business. The same holds for any other type of business or management concepts. First of all, business ethics can imply costs for a business: training of staff, management time, consultants, and missed opportunities that arise from unethical behaviour can be seen as the price of business ethics (Gössling, 2003). Managerial rationality demands an analysis of the profitability of every cent that is spent. In business life, managerial rationality, economic approaches and business administration thinking of course are dominant, since managers have a background in these traditions. In the early years of the debate about business ethics (BE) and corporate social responsibility, one statement dominated the debate. This statement...

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