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Does a CSR Focus Lead to Innovation in Established Firms?

Social and Sustainable Enterprise: Changing the Nature of Business

ISBN: 978-1-78190-254-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-255-4

Publication date: 6 November 2012


Purpose – In the recent redefinition of the European Commission's corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, attention is brought to CSR as a motor for innovation. However, literature in the area remains scarce. This chapter describes and discusses innovation as a consequence of a firm's CSR activities.

Methodology/approach – The empirical part of the chapter is based on the content analysis of 58 annual reports issued by the companies listed on the Swedish large-cap stock exchange. Their statements on CSR were coded to grasp the meanings of CSR, what areas they focus on, and types of innovation.

Findings – The study indicates that CSR innovation mostly focuses on environmental aspects. Companies that are less regulated by law in their operations tend to become more creative in their CSR approaches. CSR policy complements rather than enhances CSR innovation. CSR orientation is path-dependent on competences and position in the supply chain, and puts focus on incremental innovation. For product innovation, CSR may either appear as CSR in product (CSR-influenced material choices) or CSR in use.

Research limitations/implications – The data comprises established Swedish firms, however acting on international markets.

Social implications – Innovation and CSR are two important pillars for societal development. Finding motors that foster innovation, while increasing CSR awareness and using CSR as the driver for innovation, are important challenges for the future.

Originality/value of chapter – The study contributes to previous research through linking CSR orientation to innovation, describing types of innovation, and connecting their combined foci to different industry sectors.



Öberg, C. (2012), "Does a CSR Focus Lead to Innovation in Established Firms?", Underwood, S., Blundel, R., Lyon, F. and Schaefer, A. (Ed.) Social and Sustainable Enterprise: Changing the Nature of Business (Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 119-139.



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