Corporate social responsibility in China: implementation and challenges

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Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important in China. This paper investigates the implementation of instruments for dimensions of CSR that are relevant for the Chinese context and the challenges that Chinese companies face. Based on a survey among 109 Chinese companies, we find that formal instruments to implement CSR are rather common. Companies spend most effort in improving the economic aspects of CSR, such as competitiveness, product innovation and process innovation. Only a small minority of the companies set concrete targets and report the realization of these targets for social and environmental goals. This indicates that the attention to social and environmental aspects of CSR is still rather loose. The most important challenges for improving CSR are strong competitive pressure, insufficient support from the government and/or nongovernmental organizations and high costs of CSR implementation. Multiple regression analysis shows that the use of instruments is positively related to company size and foreign ownership and negatively related to lack of resources and support for CSR by investors and consumers.

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