Purpose: The article aims to investigate whether the integration between corporate socialresponsibility (CSR) and intellectual capital (IC) reports could be a plausible issue. To address this aim,the paper posits three main research questions: whether there is a theory able to explain the relationshipbetween IC and CSR (RQ1); whether empirical surveys provide evidence of the links between CSRactivities (CSRA) and IC (RQ2); and whether organizations have started to disclose social andintangible issues in a single document within the Italian context (RQ3).Design/methodology/approach – To answer the RQs, we decided to arrange three different literaturereviews. In detail, to address RQ1, we searched for theoretical studies focussing on an resource-basedview (RBV) perspective of IC or CSR or both. To address RQ2, we searched for empirical studiesaddressed to test the links between CSRA and the creation and development of organizational IC. Toaddress RQ3, we searched for empirical studies focussing on companies’ experiences of integration ofCSR and IC reports or on surveys on this theme in the Italian context.Findings – All the three literature reviews provide evidence that the trend to move towards anintegration of social and IC issues in a single report is a plausible issue, from a theoretical, managementand disclosure point of view.Research limitations/implications – The main limit of the research lies in its theoretical nature;however, the study can provide an impulse for further research on the existing trend in the real-lifecontext, and can also provide the theoretical basis on which to build a model that, starting from therelationships among the different kinds of voluntary reports, provides the criteria and methods tointegrate the firm’s corporate voluntary reports in a single report. For researchers, this result also has animplication to control for intangibles, for example, assessing the relationship between CSR andcorporate performance may explain some of the mixed findings that have occurred in the past.Practical implications – The article inserts CSR and IC within the RBV theory. Such recognitionprovides managers the theoretical framework to treat them conjointly, being aware that these twodimensions are intertwined. The article also provides evidence that CSRA impact on IC creation anddevelopment. The main implication for company managers is that, when developing a strategy aimed atstrengthening IC, they should consider not only all components of intellectual capital but, above all, alsoinclude CSR actions and attributes in strategy formulation. Finally, the article provides evidence of atrend towards an integration of CSR and IC reports within the Italian territory. An integrated CSR–ICapproach could have relevant implications on the development of the Italian territory characterized bya large number of SMEs and networks of firms that are an integral part of the local community, whosesuccess is often related to their capability to acquire consensus from local stakeholders such asemployees, public authorities, financial organizations, banks, suppliers and citizens.Originality/value – The article provides three main contributions: first, the paper suggests that theintegration of the two different perspectives IC and CSR finds its theoretical justification in the RBVtheory, which is scarcely applied to explain the link between these two perspectives; second, the articleprovides evidence of the real effects that investments in CSR have on the maintenance and developingof organizational IC; third, it provides evidence that there is a trend moving towards an integration ofsocial and IC issues in a single report in the Italian context.

On the plausibility of an integrated approach to disclose social and intangible issues

NARDO, Maria;VELTRI, Stefania
2014-01-01

Abstract

Purpose: The article aims to investigate whether the integration between corporate socialresponsibility (CSR) and intellectual capital (IC) reports could be a plausible issue. To address this aim,the paper posits three main research questions: whether there is a theory able to explain the relationshipbetween IC and CSR (RQ1); whether empirical surveys provide evidence of the links between CSRactivities (CSRA) and IC (RQ2); and whether organizations have started to disclose social andintangible issues in a single document within the Italian context (RQ3).Design/methodology/approach – To answer the RQs, we decided to arrange three different literaturereviews. In detail, to address RQ1, we searched for theoretical studies focussing on an resource-basedview (RBV) perspective of IC or CSR or both. To address RQ2, we searched for empirical studiesaddressed to test the links between CSRA and the creation and development of organizational IC. Toaddress RQ3, we searched for empirical studies focussing on companies’ experiences of integration ofCSR and IC reports or on surveys on this theme in the Italian context.Findings – All the three literature reviews provide evidence that the trend to move towards anintegration of social and IC issues in a single report is a plausible issue, from a theoretical, managementand disclosure point of view.Research limitations/implications – The main limit of the research lies in its theoretical nature;however, the study can provide an impulse for further research on the existing trend in the real-lifecontext, and can also provide the theoretical basis on which to build a model that, starting from therelationships among the different kinds of voluntary reports, provides the criteria and methods tointegrate the firm’s corporate voluntary reports in a single report. For researchers, this result also has animplication to control for intangibles, for example, assessing the relationship between CSR andcorporate performance may explain some of the mixed findings that have occurred in the past.Practical implications – The article inserts CSR and IC within the RBV theory. Such recognitionprovides managers the theoretical framework to treat them conjointly, being aware that these twodimensions are intertwined. The article also provides evidence that CSRA impact on IC creation anddevelopment. The main implication for company managers is that, when developing a strategy aimed atstrengthening IC, they should consider not only all components of intellectual capital but, above all, alsoinclude CSR actions and attributes in strategy formulation. Finally, the article provides evidence of atrend towards an integration of CSR and IC reports within the Italian territory. An integrated CSR–ICapproach could have relevant implications on the development of the Italian territory characterized bya large number of SMEs and networks of firms that are an integral part of the local community, whosesuccess is often related to their capability to acquire consensus from local stakeholders such asemployees, public authorities, financial organizations, banks, suppliers and citizens.Originality/value – The article provides three main contributions: first, the paper suggests that theintegration of the two different perspectives IC and CSR finds its theoretical justification in the RBVtheory, which is scarcely applied to explain the link between these two perspectives; second, the articleprovides evidence of the real effects that investments in CSR have on the maintenance and developingof organizational IC; third, it provides evidence that there is a trend moving towards an integration ofsocial and IC issues in a single report in the Italian context.
2014
literature review; resource-based view; corporate social responsibility and intellectual capital reports
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/158578
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