ABSTRACT

One of the roles of accounting is to provide information on business performance, either through financial accounting indicators or otherwise. Theoretical-empirical studies on the relationship between Corporate Financial Performance (CFP) and Corporate Social Performance (CSP) have increased in recent years, indicating the development of this research field. However, the contribution to the theory by empirical studies is made in an incremental manner, given that each study normally focuses on a particular aspect of the theory. Therefore, it is periodically necessary to conduct an analysis to evaluate how the aggregation of empirical studies has contributed to the evolution of the theory. Designing such an analysis was the objective of the present study. The theoretical framework covered the following: stakeholder theory, the relationship between CSP and CFP, good management theory, and slack resource theory. This research covered a 15-year period (1996 to 2010), and the data collection employed a search tool for the following databases: Ebsco, Proquest, and ISI. The sampling process obtained a set of 58 exclusively theoretical-empirical and quantitative articles that test the CSP-CFP relationship. The main results in the theoretical field reinforce the proposed positive relationship between CSP and CFP and good management theory and demonstrate a deficiency in the explanation of the temporal lag in the causal relationship between CSP and CFP as well as deficiencies in the description of the CSP construct. These results suggest future studies to research the temporal lag in the causal relationship between CSP and CFP and the possible reasons that the positive association between CSP and CFP has not been assumed in some empirical studies.

1 INTRODUCTION

One of the roles of accounting is to produce information on business performance (Gaspareto, 2004). This performance may be measured from the perspective of monetary values, normally using financial-accounting information, and/or from the perspective of non-monetary information (Hendriksen & Van Breda, 1999). The measurement of performance by non-monetary indicators is more recent and has increased in acceptance, particularly as a function of the contemporary concern regarding the social action of organizations (Oliveira, De Luca, Ponte, & Pontes Junior, 2009). The theme of the present study fits within this context of accounting, focusing on Corporate Financial Performance (CFP) and Corporate Social Performance (CSP).

There is a perception that studies related to stakeholder theory, more specifically with regard to theoretical-empirical studies on the relationships of CFP and CSP, have increased in recent decades. However, this process of theoretical development through empirical contributions is normally performed in a precise manner, with each study pointing to a specific problem in the theory or presenting a possible explanation of a theoretical gap. Periodically, therefore, it is convenient to develop studies that seek to analyze, in an aggregate manner, the evolution of a research field. In this regard, the objective of the present study was to investigate the evolution of the conceptual and methodological aspects of these theoretical-empirical studies, with the goal of presenting a consolidation of the advances that have been gained.

In particular, the present study focuses on the aspects of the relationship between CFP and CSP. For example, several studies have investigated which independent variables among those that typically serve as a proxy for CSP (customers, employees, suppliers, government, environment, diversity, and community) are neutral, positively, or negatively correlated with the variable CFP. However, once again, what is the synthesis of these results? Furthermore, several studies have specifically investigated which control variables could be employed in this relationship, e.g., stakeholder management (Berman, Wicks, Kotha, & Jones, 1999), company size (Orlitzky, 2001), industry (Waddock & Graves, 1997), and board composition (Shao, 2010). What is the set of control variables that have been tested and are potentially appropriate for this relationship?

Some questions were designed to guide this research. In the theoretical field, these questions were used to facilitate the responses to the following questions: Do the empirical results reinforce stakeholder theory? What potential inconsistency does stakeholder theory display compared to the observed empirical results? What advances in stakeholder theory may be supported by empirical evidence?

In the area of empirical research, this study seeks to answer to the following questions: What are the most used variables to measure Financial Performance and Social Performance? How is the causal relationship between the two variables treated? What control variables are considered in this relationship? What are the most used statistical techniques? What are the sources and form of data collection employed? Has there been, in fact, an evolution in the volume of these publications?

Notably, there is a series of theoretical and methodological gaps to be researched. From the theoretical perspective, the main gaps are related to the variables that influence the CSP/CFP relationship and their causal and temporal relationship. From the methodological point of view, the main gaps are related to the most accepted forms of measuring CSP and CFP and to the main test methods employed.



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