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CSR boosts national competitiveness

Themes: Corporate governance and ethics

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can make a significant positive contribution to national competitiveness, and countries with low innovation records can reap even greater benefits.

Research by Dr Christos Pitelis of Cambridge Judge Business School and Dr Ioanna Boulouta, an alumna of the School and now a Lecturer in Management at Birkbeck College, University of London, has found that national CSR performance can be an important boost to a country’s competitiveness when this is measured by national living standards.

Their paper ‘Who Needs CSR? The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on National Competitiveness’ concludes that countries with relatively low innovation records can benefit more, compared to innovative countries, by implementing nationwide CSR-based positioning strategies.

Dr Pitelis wants to continue the study and hopes that others will join in to build on the implications they have discovered for governments.

“One policy implication which is of great interest to us in Britain is to leverage our competitive advantages with respect to corporate social responsibility. I have to emphasise these are many in terms of rule-of-law, in terms of institutions that are supporting a culture of honesty and openness.

“While many other countries are capitalising on this and have included these elements as part of their strategic plans for national competitiveness we have not done this yet. At least there is much to be done but there is a solid basis on which we can build.”

Dr Ioanna Boulouta says the six-year-long study data took in 4,000 companies in 19 countries around the world.

“Countries with very low innovative records can benefit even more from CSR strategies because CSR can work as a substitute for the lack of a strong innovation system that could assist companies to differentiate at the international level.”

Christos Pitelis is Director of the Centre for International Business and Management (CIBAM) and a Reader in International Business & Competitiveness at Cambridge Judge Business School. Ioanna Boulouta is a graduate of the School’s MPhil in Technology Policy and PhD programmes, and a Lecturer in Management at Birkbeck College, University of London.