Original Research

Demystifying the use of corporate social responsibility terminology in the investment context

Kara Nel, Pierre D. Erasmus, Nadia Mans-Kemp
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 16, No 1 | a850 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v16i1.850 | © 2023 Kara Nel, Pierre D Erasmus, Nadia Mans-Kemp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 December 2022 | Published: 25 August 2023

About the author(s)

Kara Nel, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Pierre D. Erasmus, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Nadia Mans-Kemp, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: Interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) is escalating in the 21st century. Globally, companies are increasingly attempting to enhance their reporting on sustainability concerns, given that terminology can noticeably affect the attitudes and behaviours of investors and other key stakeholders.

Research purpose: A growing number of responsible investors incorporate sustainability considerations when making investment decisions. Therefore, it is important to determine the relevant CSR definitions and dimensions based on the breadth of existing research on CSR in the investment context.

Motivation for the study: As investors incorporate companies’ reporting on a range of financial and sustainability performance metrics when making investment decisions, it is necessary to clarify sustainability-related terminology from an investor perspective.

Research approach/design and method: A systematic literature review was performed to explore sustainability terminology in the investment context with a particular focus on CSR. Content and thematic analyses were conducted on 94 articles.

Main findings: The findings confirm that although concepts such as sustainability and corporate citizenship have been used interchangeably with CSR by previous scholars, referral to CSR has remained relevant in the investment context. Eight key dimensions were identified to describe CSR in an investment context, namely, social concerns, stakeholders, economic factors, environment, action, voluntarism, ethics, and sustainability.

Practical/managerial implications: The identification of context-specific CSR dimensions provides a foundation for developing CSR measurement tools for investors and corporate decision makers.

Contribution/value-add: Eight core dimensions of CSR were identified and combined in a comprehensive, context-specific definition applicable to the investment context.


Keywords

corporate social responsibility (CSR); dimensions; investment context; socially responsible investment; sustainability; systematic literature review.

JEL Codes

G11: Portfolio Choice • Investment Decisions; G41: Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making in Financial Markets; M14: Corporate Culture • Diversity • Social Responsibility

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Metrics

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