How significant the impact of corporate social responsibility is associated to the legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory

The research area that I think is both important and of interest is the significance of corporate social responsibility. With the development of academic theory in accounting field, the research of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has gained great promotions. And those researches have brought about profound influences to corporations and publics.

The importance of this discussion of significance of corporate social responsibility disclosure is that it can affect many groups of people and a lot of perspectives of society to a large extent.

In order words, the disclosure of CSR can be very critical to a society. Another element that makes me feel CSR is important is that some companies may change their practices to respond to the expectations of the society when there is a CSR issue within these companies. For this case, CSR even could potentially facilitate certain industries to a better future.

In addition, CSR is important also because that it now trends to involve into a very large range of industry.

The CSR became a wide concerned issue. Thus, these factors inescapably draw my attention on to it. The topic of corporate social responsibility is still a young object to study compared with other old theories. This is why this topic attracts me to research it. Moreover, even though CSR has drawn all of the attention from public and companies, there are still plenty misperceptions and many vague parts about it. The purposes of this paper are to clarity the understanding of CSR in many different points of view based on my researches on the topic.

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Research question
The research question of this article, which drew my attention to explore into the theories of accounting area, is that how significant the impact of corporate social responsibility is associated to the legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory. This question led to many interesting facts which will be listed below.

Academic Articles
1. Corporate social responsibility: evolution of a definitional Carroll (1999) discussed the history of the evolution of the concept and definition of CSR. As Carroll found, in the 1990s, the CSR conception bridged considerably to alternative themes such as stakeholder theory, business ethics theory, CSP, and corporate citisenship. Carroll holds a positive perspective that CSR will further affect the stakeholder society, particularly at the global level and new emerging technologies arenas, and commercial applications.

Thus, the author believes that the CSR has a bright prospective because at its core, it addresses and captures the most important concerns of the public relating to business and society relationships. It is also identified that in the last two decades, CSR continually worked as a core construct but yields to or is transformed into alternative thematic frameworks. 2. Refinements to Legitimacy Theory in Social and Environmental Accounting In this paper, Tilling (2004) showed some points that is relevant to my research.

To begin with, he gave the definition of Legitimacy to build the discussion of social and environmental accounting area. In addition, the author also identified some of the more topical developments in the ethical and management aspects on corporations and legitimacy. For example, the author demonstrated fundamental concepts of layers of legitimacy theory. The table brought some ideas about legitimacy theory in different perspectives and it illustrated the phases of an organisation in managing its legitimacy. Moreover, Tilling made some clear thoughts that the contributions of legitimacy theory that have already been made by accounting researchers that are yet to be fully recognised, which means that the essences of legitimacy theory are not fully grasped.

Therefore, this explained why social and environment disclosures are voluntary. 3. The Role of Theory in Explaining Motivation for Corporate Social Disclosures: Voluntary Disclosures vs ‘Solicited’ Disclosures Van der Laan (2009) investigates that it is voluntary in nature to public corporate social disclosures (CSD) for entities in early stage since CSR has been developed. And then the author found that the interests of researchers are moving to motivational aspects of disclosures of CSR. More and more companies are requested to report on their interactions with society in various forms which involves the term: ‘solicited’. This phenomenon indicates that the value of reporting CSR is increasingly important.

It can be regarded as a natural consequence that the style of disclosure information is likely to be demanded other than only from voluntary actions due to the increasing stresses on organisations to be responsible. Stakeholder theory and legitimacy theory are viewed as explanations of motivations of CSR disclosures. Thus, to stakeholders, legitimacy theory is about management notions rather than accountability. 4. Legitimacy theory: a story of reporting social and environmental matters within the Australian food and beverage industry In this research, Guthrie, Cuganesan & Ward (2006) mentioned the links between the company’s choice of legitimation strategies and company’s level of profile.

The authors assumed companies as ‘high profile’ and ‘low profile’. It states that the higher profile the enterprises are, the more possibilities to disclose more CSR information will be. This may be because of the natural quality of this particular industry. Companies in different industries have different motivations towards legitimation owing to their different activities on CSR. Another point is that corporations with high profiles trend to apply more disclosure strategies in order to change expectations and perceptions of public and deflect attention of them. Based on the view of legitimacy theory, this article concludes that CSR is likely to be a trend of corporations to report, which means that, within the legitimacy theory, the CSR significantly affected companies’ strategies in most aspects.

5. Social reporting in the tobacco industry: all smoke and mirrors? Due to the particularity of tobacco industry, the possibility of facing serious erosion of legitimacy appears more in tobacco industry than any other industries. Thus, the effects on mentioning CSR in reports in tobacco industry are likely to be greater than in other businesses. Moerman & Van der Laan (2005) states the process that use social reporting to fix the gap between the social and the economic. Moerman & Van der Laan cited specific data to clarify this belief.

With the understanding of legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory, World Health Organisation extends the notion of stakeholders that have the potential to exercise pressure on the ‘legitimacy’ of an industry via global regulation’s control. 6. Gaining legitimacy in contemporary world: environmental and social activities of organisations This article studies the relations between environmental and social motions of organisations and organisational legitimacy. According to Emtairah and Mont (2008), the first point can be made is that CSR activities are likely to influence legitimation efforts of organisations. For instance, energy producing companies are willing to reduce the carbon emission in order to sustain the legitimacy to meet collective set of societal expectations to maintain ‘social license’ to operate.

The second point classifies that how those potential variations influence these differences as constructs for further empirical research when companies made choices of CSR activities for legitimation purposes and the conditions. Overall, this article states the reasons for companies to disclose their corporate social responsibility. 7. The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice In this discussion, Carroll & Shabana (2010) states some features of ‘business case’ for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The study of the business case mentions the cause why the companies should accept and improve their CSR. In addition, Carroll & Shabana gives the answers of what the business communities and organizations get out of CSR. Moreover, the most important view that Carroll & Shabana made is that with the evolving understandings of CSR and some of the long-established, the current responsibilities of companies to society is beyond profit-seeking and pursuing the maximum wealth, which indicates that corporations should be responsible to their stakeholders even if it occurs sacrifices on profit. Studying business case of CSR may produce some outcomes in good ways which are reducing cost and risk, strengthening legitimacy and reputation, building competitive advantage and creating win–win situations. 8. The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting

In this case, Maguire (2011) pointed out the impacts that CSR has produced to the whole world by analysing the quantity of CSR reporting of different periods. According to the statistics from, in 2009, around 4,000 corporations published CSR disclosures which this figure is 10 times greater than it used to be in the mid of 1990s. Although companies are increasingly attempting to disclose reports about their social and environmental effects, reporting on such non-financial data has not yet become the majority.

More statistics showed that, in 2009, almost 90% of the Fortune Global 100 issued CSR reports, but most stakeholders are still not clear with the social and environmental performance of these corporations. The author concludes that CSR reporting is certainly important for future years. 9. Shareholder value versus stakeholder values: CSR and financialisation in global food firms Jones & Nisbet (2011) studies the range of CSR which includes a test case of food manufacturing industry. It investigates the causes of CSR that arises from the financialisation of company strategies and how these define and rank social promises and roles within such internal institutions.

By analysing the four biggest global entities’ case, the negotiated closure of two specific factories verifies an incompatibility between deeming employees as stakeholders and CSR as a business strategy. This paper concluded that corporate CSR perspectives on ‘stakeholder partnerships’ are highly limited in scope. In addition, global firms’ CSR with in financialised markets are unlikely to complement or replace unalloyed market forces, or state regulation and intervention. It is beyond either neoliberal, socioeco-nomic governance by markets, or welfare regulation by public authorities. 10. Does CSR Reduce Firm Risk?

Evidence from Controversial Industry Sectors Jo & Na (2012) clarified the links between CSR and firm risk in debatable industry sectors, such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling etc. and the result is found that CSR engagement inversely influences company risk after controlling for various characteristics of corporations. Jo & Na employ a system equation method and difference regressions to insistently search that CSR engagement of firms in controversial industry sectors negatively affects firm risk in order to cope with endogeneity problem. Authors found that, through CSR engagement, the influence of risk reduction is more economically and statistically important in controversial industry companies than the companies in non-controversial industry.

In responding to the research question, the findings are expected to be appeared from academic papers that variously content the information about the relation between CSR and its influences to this society through legitimacy or stakeholder theory perspective. The expectations of results can be general or specific. For example, one result expected to be found is the conditions of interacted impacts based on the fundamental relations between legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and CSR. Based on that finding, a further expectation can be made that whether CSR affects the legitimacy of a company and to what extent. Furthermore, I expect to find out what kind of corporations or industries are influenced or influenced most and to response what steps they will take to sustain existence.

Another expectation of proper findings is the understanding of the role of theory in explaining motivation CSR and for what reasons that companies are voluntary or solicited. Moreover, the concept of what benefits CSR strategy may bring to corporations is required by the research question. In addition, the future forecast about CSR is also required in this topic. Lastly, how to make decisions between stakeholder theory and shareholder theory has to be discussed. Since the level of research we have done so far, more profound discussion should occur. The expectation can be whether CSR can complement or replace certain nature functions of the society or economy.

Accounting Theories
The accounting theories that might help me to explain the expectations I have for my research question are positive theory, legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory, shareholder theory and corporate social responsibility (CSR) theory. Positive theory explain, predict organisations’ activities. This theory is the fundamental for other theories. Legitimacy theory posits that business organisations are bound by the social contract to undertake socially desired actions in return for approval of their existence, goals and rewards from their activities.

This theory has close relationship with CSR issues. Stakeholder theory suggests that the purpose of a business is to create as much value as possible for stakeholders while keep the interests of customers, suppliers, employees, communities and shareholders aligned and going in the same direction. Contrastively, shareholder Theory describes that businesses do not have any moral obligations or social responsibilities at all, other than to maximize their own profit. Shareholder and stakeholder theories are normative theories for CSR, guiding what a organisation’s role ought to be. Corporate social responsibility refers to the way that a business takes into account the financial, environmental and social impacts of decisions and actions it is involved in. This description meets the core of this article.

Data Collection

To collect enough data for this essay, I chose data base as my searching method. By accessing to UTAS account, I can simply use the library data base functions to search what I want. This is a timesaving and multi-functional approach. The reason why I made this point is that the library data base of UTAS has enormous resources and various types of articles such books, journals, dissertations, newspaper articles etc. I can easily use it to find the information. Moreover, the searching data base has many other functions, which require login, that are very convenient.

For example, when I search an article, the resources are listed out really fast and it is automatically in a sequence of the most relevant outcomes. This procedure saves a lot of time from eliminating useless articles. The preview factor is amenity as well. After searching some particular key words, when I move my mouse onto any titles of the search results, without clicking on it, a preview window jumps out with all the brief information about this article. The best function is the ‘save this item’ button, which I can use to save useful articles neatly and simply.

It is important to know that ethics is a bottom line of the work and research by our hands to avoid hurting other people or ourselves. Ethical considerations play important role during my research. Ethics approval helps to ensure that research complies with established guidelines. What I need to do at UTAS to obtain ethical approval is to plan the research project and find an organization to review on the plan.

The Research Integrity and Ethics Sub-Committee (RIEC) can offer some help to me to obtain the ethical approval at UTAS. I can also go to the Research Integrity Advisers (RIAs) to ask for help. Clear view can be made that I have the duty to ensure the integrity of my work and that my research enhances the good name of UTAS and the profession. I am also required to observe ethical, professional and legal responsibilities in the conduct of research. In addition, I am aware of that students must apply for ethics approval prior to the recruitment of participants and the commencement of any data collection. It is not possible to retrospective ethics approval. Moreover, all resources used in my research must be electronic copies and documented.

Question Development
1. According to the history of the evolution of the concept and definition of CSR, how did CSR bridge to other theories. By answering this question, respondents will be able to know about CSR’s evolution and more importantly, respondents will have some brief ideas about the relations built between legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and CSR. 11. Does CSR affect companies’ legitimacy? If yes, to what extent do you think it will be? How did the CSR develop under different circumstances? This indicates the core link and gap between legitimacy and CSR. This article shows a trend that more and more companies are requested to report on their interactions with society in various forms which involves the term: solicited. 12. When do companies become voluntary or solicited?

This answer illuminates the truth of growing significance of CSR in worldwide. 13. Which industries are most likely to be affected by the changes in CSR strategies of corporations? Respondents should enter into a deeper thought, although most of the businesses will be affected by CSR issues, only few of them paid high costs on their CSR problems. 14. What are the aspects of those companies to be influenced? By examining this idea, readers gain the knowledge of limitation of the scope of CSR consequence related to legitimacy. 15. What motions would organisations take to balance its legitimacy, CSR strategy and the profitable goals of company? This article studies the relations between environmental and social motions of organisations and organisational legitimacy.

This question needs to be asked because that this article shows what loss will happen if CSR strategy is not appropriate. 16. What benefits can CSR strategy bring to corporations by studying business of CSR? Studying business case of CSR may produce some outcomes in good ways which are reducing cost and risk, strengthening legitimacy and reputation, building competitive advantage and creating win–win situations. 17. How is CSR going to affect the future’s companies’ reports?

Answering this question will make readers realise how significant the CSR is and how will it enhance social and environmental conditions as to be treated a priority for politicians and other stakeholders. The CSR reporting is not only affecting current companies activities, but also future’s. 18. Can CSR complement or even replace unalloyed market forces, or state regulation and intervention? This question shows that CSR is so importance that even could be referred to the discussion of replacing state regulation. However, the conclusion is negative. 19. What is the relation between CSR and firm risk in controversial industry sectors? Readers will know the facts in reality of this case.

Reference list
1. Carroll, AB 1999, ‘Corporate social responsibility: evolution of a definitional construct’, Business and Society, 38, pp. 268–295 2. Tilling, M 2004, ‘Refinements to legitimacy theory in social and environmental accounting’, Commerce Research Paper, no. 04-6, ISSN: 1441-3906. 3. Van der Laan, SL 2009, ‘The role of theory in explaining motivation for corporate social disclosures: voluntary disclosures vs ‘solicited’ disclosures’, The Australasian Accounting Business & Finance Journal, vol. 3, no.4. pp.15.

4. Moerman, L & Van der Laan, SL 2005, ‘Social reporting in the tobacco industry: all smoke and mirrors’, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, vol. 18, no.3, pp.374-389. 5. Guthrie, J, Cuganesan, S & Ward, L 2006, ‘Legitimacy theory: a story of reporting social and environmental matters within the Australian food and beverage industry’, The Fifth Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference, p.1-35. 6. Emtairah, T & Mont, O 2008, ‘Gaining legitimacy in contemporary world: environmental and social activities of organisations’, Int. J. Sustainable Society, vol. 1, no. 2, pp.134–148.

7. Carroll, AB & Shabana, KM 2010, ‘The business case for corporate social responsibility: a review of concepts, research and practice’, International Journal of Management Reviews, vol. 12, no.1, pp. 85-105. 8. Maguire, M 2011, ‘The future of corporate social responsibility reporting’, Issues In Brief, vol. 1, no. 1. 9. Jones, B & Nisbet, P 2011, ‘Shareholder value versus stakeholder values: CSR and financialisation in global food firms’, Socio-Economic Review, vol. 9, no. 2, pp.287-314. 10. Jo, H & Na, H 2012, ‘Does CSR Reduce Firm Risk? Evidence from Controversial Industry Sectors’, Journal of Business Ethics, volume 110, no. 4, pp. 441-456

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How significant the impact of corporate social responsibility is associated to the legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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