Relationship Between Sustainable Development and Financial Performance: International Empirical Research

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to clarify the relationship between companies' sustainable behavior and their financial performance (FP), which has been studied for several years without reaching a consensus on the effect and the direction of it. Hypotheses are tested for an unbalanced sample of 1960 multinational non-financial listed companies from 25 countries and one administrative region for the period between 2002 and 2010. Due to the use of an international database and the differences among countries, it is possible to observe divergence between institutional settings. For this reason, a corporate governance system (Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Latin and Asian) is used as characteristic of the macro-environment. Results obtained via the generalized method of moments estimator allow us to support the existence of a positive bidirectional relationship between corporate social responsibility and FP, evidencing the existence of a synergistic circle. The use of market value indicated that investors are able to identify economic, social and environmental practices generating a positive effect on FP. These relationships differ between corporate governance systems, due to the specific characteristics of each system. Findings are robust for each sustainable sub-index (society, human rights, environmental and board). Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

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