Linking corporate social responsibility and organizational performance in the construction industry

Taylor and Francis Group
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Construction Management and Economics, 2017, 35, (3), pp. 90-105
Issue Date:
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In the construction industry, the subject of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important as communities, employees and socially conscious clients expect firms to demonstrate they are good corporate citizens. However, while CSR research in construction has accelerated in recent years, it remains fragmented and unconceptualized and there is little understanding of the relationship between CSR and organizational performance, the types of CSR strategies employed and the strategic motivations behind them. To address this deficiency in current CSR knowledge and drawing upon contemporary CSR theory, a survey of 104 professionals from across the construction supply chain in Australia and New Zealand was undertaken. The results show that CSR initiatives in the construction sector are integrative, isolated, narrowly focussed (mainly on environmental activities), immature, compliance-based and operational rather than strategic. The link between CSR and economic performance increasingly espoused (and assumed) in much of the CSR literature does not appear to be accepted in practice with the main benefits being seen as relational in building corporate loyalty, brand and engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. By empirically showing that CSR in construction takes place within an integrative conceptual framework, our findings highlight the potential value of theoretical concepts such as stakeholder salience in moving this field of research forward. These approaches recognize the power that stakeholders (both internal and external) have over a business and the need to manage those relationships carefully in order to secure a licence to operate.
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