Social benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

What social conditions do we find important and how much are we willing to pay for them?

In the current society, it is difficult to imagine businesses operating without some form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits. The economic benefits are often clear and can be quantified, whereas the social and environmental benefits remain vague and lack quantification. This gives raise to concerns about whether CSR is not just a way to ‘green wash’ certain harmful social or environmental practices. These concerns can to some extent be overcome by quantifying those benefits. At this moment, there is a lot of research quantifying these benefits. However, 80% of the studies represent environmental benefits, leaving the social benefits underrepresented. Therefore, this thesis aims to quantify the social benefits of CSR to society. The objectives of this thesis are as follows: identify social conditions, determine the willingness to pay of Dutch consumers for products with good social conditions and compare this to actual market data for a few alimentary products. A literature review is combined with a discrete choice experiment on bananas, chocolate bars and coffee packages. The survey is held among a sample of 402 consumers in the Netherlands. This master thesis aims to empirically contribute to the field of valuing social sustainability and hopes to stimulate other research in this area. Quantification of social benefits would ultimately lead to companies being more inclined to invest in a social responsible policy.