This study aims to apply signaling theory to examine whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure can deliver effective signals to stakeholders to increase a firm’s competitive advantage in China. Whether ownership patterns or environmental sensitivity causes a significant difference in the relationship between a firm’s CSR disclosure and competitive advantage is also examined.
Data analysis is based on a regression model. Content analysis is performed to convert qualitative CSR information of Chinese firms into quantitative data, while intellectual capital (IC) is used as a proxy variable for competitive advantage.
The difference in competitive advantage impairment between environmentally sensitive industries (ESIs) and non-environmentally sensitive industries (NESIs) is significant. Further comparisons on the relationship between overall CSR disclosure and competitive advantage among state-owned enterprises, privately owned enterprises, ESIs and NESIs suggest that the relationship is negative.
The study extends research of strategic CSR to signaling theory and competitive advantage. In particular, a research using IC as a proxy for competitive advantage is rare. It also contributes to the literature on competitive advantage and strategic CSR by examining the effects of both CSR disclosure and IC.
This paper provides evidence related to stakeholders’ reaction to managers’ various CSR strategies in China. The contribution of this study is that it confirms that different CSR initiatives have different effects on the competitiveness of enterprises in China.
Yu, H., Kuo, L. and Kao, M. (2017), "The relationship between CSR disclosure and competitive advantage", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 8 No. 5, pp. 547-570. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-11-2016-0086Download as .RIS
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