The question as to whether companies can “do well while doing good” has been investigated by academics for over four decades. Conclusive evidence of a positive link between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Financial Performance (CFP) so far has however remained elusive.
In building on previous research findings, this study aimed to provide a deeper understanding into the mediating and moderating factors that impact a firm’s ability to generate returns from social investment. In particular, the moderating effect of social and environmental (SEI) impact levels on CSR returns were further investigated. Following the risk-reduction and value-creating hypotheses, it was asserted that sustainable firms with high SEI would yield superior CFP as compared to their peers with lower levels of social and environmental impact.
The findings revealed that sustainable firms with high levels of social and environmental impact indeed had higher CFP than their peers with medium and low social and environmental impacts levels. However, the same results were yielded for non-sustainable companies.
Although the main hypothesis did not yield the expected outcomes, the study provided important insights into the role of moderating factors on the ability for firms to generate returns from CSR. Moreover, the study uncovered previously unexplored areas of CSR and thereby opened up new avenues for future research.