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The business case for CSR: Estimating future earnings impacts of CSR projects

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(Edited by Michael Hopkins.) Corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is by essence a corporate activity, inevitably brings up the issue of the motivations of the organizations practising it. In principle CSR is about “doing good”, and thus intertwined with notions of altruism and benevolence, which run contrary to the profit motive. Even so, while CSR certainly benefits the organization practising it in addition to the various stakeholders, CSR is also usually associated with outlays, sometimes significant. Ignoring CSR expenditure could mean endangering the organization’s survival, and therefore a review of anticipated CSR expenditure may be considered a core responsibility of management. Conversely, reviewing CSR benefits in relation to such expenditure would yield a more complete picture and show whether certain CSR projects actually improve the organization’s bottom line. Such a review is commonly referred to as a “business case”. The objective of this chapter is to explore and model this “business case”—specific to the organization, predictive and potentially encompassing future cash flows discounted to present value. Such a business case has the potential to protect the interests of shareholders and investors, but also to prove that certain CSR undertakings are profitable, and thus make a CSR engagement both more selective and more sustainable
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Keywords: CSR; business case; corporate citizenship; corporate social responsibility; future earnings impacts; management; sustainability; sustainable development; textbook; triple bottom line

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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