Influence of corporate social responsibility on organizational performance. Knowledge management as moderator

Publication Date12 August 2019
Date12 August 2019
AuthorYa-Hui Ling
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Inuence of corporate
social responsibility on
organizational performance
Knowledge management as moderator
Ya-Hui Ling
Department of Business Administration, I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Purpose This paper aims to examine the potential moderatingeffect of knowledge management on the
inuenceof corporatesocial responsibility (CSR) on organizational performance.
Design/methodology/approach Questionnaire data were collected from 170 distinct companies in
Findings The results conrmthe positive inuence of CSR on organizational performance. Thereare also
some interestingmoderating effects of knowledge management in the CSRperformancerelationship.
Originality/value A major contribution of this study is its conrmation of the context-dependence
nature of CSR and the potential moderating effect of knowledge management between CSR and
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Knowledge management, Organizational performance
Paper type Research paper
Research background
The rising public awareness and expectation with regard to social and environmental
problems have led corporations to pay more attention to corporate social responsibility
(hereafter known as CSR) and corporate sustainability (Van Marrewijk, 2010). While rms
have demonstrated an increasing level of interest in integrating CSR initiatives into
corporate strategiesto achieve sustainable development (Huang, 2010), there appearsto be a
lack of consistent conclusions,however, on how CSR inuences organizational performance.
This study intends to ll some of the researchgaps identied in previous studies.
First, although it is generally agreed that CSR has much to do with a rms competitive
advantages (McDermott, 2009;Huang, 2010), the ndings are still inconclusive concerning
the relationship between CSR and organizational performance (Margolis and Walsh, 2003;
Orlitzky et al., 2003). Some scholarsargue that there is a positive relationship between CSR
and nancial performance (Waddockand Graves, 1997;Margolis and Walsh, 2003;Orlitzky
et al.,2003);others, however, argue that there is a negative relationship(Becchetti et al.,2007;
Liu et al.,2014) or even no relationship at all (Aupperle et al., 1985). The study intends to
examine the inuence of various CSR practices on organizational performance in the
Taiwanese context.
This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 106-2410-
H-214-012-; MOST 107-2410-H-214-010-), The author would like to thank the editor and the
anonymous reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments and suggestions.
Received2 November 2018
Revised29 January 2019
Accepted10 February 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 3, 2019
pp. 327-352
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-11-2018-0096
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Furthermore, as most management practices may be copied sooner or later by
competitors, how can rms assure that their CSR will ultimately lead to sustainable
competitive advantages? On the basis of resource-based view (RBV) of the rm, a rms
competitive advantages may come from internal resources that distinguish a rm from its
competitors (Leonard-Barton, 1992; Wright et al., 1994; Agha and Alrubaiee, 2012).
According to the two sub-perspectives of RBV the knowledge-based perspective of the
rm and the intellectual capital-based perspective, the study identies knowledge/
intellectual capitalas important resource for rms to outperform its competitors.
In the process of implementing CSR, most often a certain degree of knowledge
management (KM) will be involved. To integrate CSR into a rms daily operations, the
concerns of stakeholdersare important aspects to consider (Guadamillas-G
omez et al.,2010).
Although both CSR and KM are important antecedent of organizational performance
(Kavitha and Anita, 2011;Misani, 2010;Ling, 2013), many studies examine only the
individual inuence of CSR (McDermott, 2009;Huang, 2010)orKM(Caddy et al., 2001;
Li and Gao, 2003;Yang, 2007;Luo and Lee, 2013)on organizational performance.
While few studies examine the relationship among CSR, KM and organizational
performance, there is some indirect evidence showing that KM may play an important role
between CSR and organizational performance. For example, Deng and Wang (2012)
conducted a longitudinal study on the listed companies in Taiwan from 2007 to 2010. An
interesting result of their studyis that companies valuing intellectual capital tend to have a
positive relationship between CSR and organizational performance. Another study by Ling
(2013) also conrms a close relationship between knowledge and intellectual capital (also
referred to as intangible assets or intangible resources) and suggests that KM helps turns
intellectual capitalinto value.
From the perspective of intellectual capital, KM can be dened as the management of
intellectual capital, specically, knowledge that is stored in employee competences (human
capital), internal structure (structural capital) and external structure (relational capital).
Given that KM is highly related to the management of intellectual capital (Deng and Wang,
2012;Ling, 2013), it is likely that the implementation of KM may have the potential to
moderate the relationship between CSR and organizational performance. The study further
identies KM as an important mechanism to moderate the inuence of CSR and
Research objectives
In view of the inconsistency between the CSRperformance relationship and the increasing
emphasis on CSR in Taiwan, this study collected data from Taiwanese companies to
examine the relationship between CSR and organizational performance, and the potential
moderating effectof KM. There are two research objectives:
The rst objective is to examine the inuence of variousCSR practices on organizational
performance in Taiwan. Consideringthe context of Taiwan, three CSR practices (employee
and consumer protection, environmental protection and community involvement) and two
types of organizational performance (nancial performance and innovation performance)
were applied to test our hypotheses. Whileproposing the more general view that there is a
positive CSRperformance relationship, the study also proposes that among the various
CSR practices, the inuence of CSR on organizational performance may not be different
depending on the types of CSR.
The second objective is to examine the potential moderatingrole of KM on the inuence
of CSR on organizational performance. According to the RBV, the study proposes
knowledge management (KM) as a potential moderator between CSR and organizational

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