An empirical study of corporate social responsibility

An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure and Organizational Performance in Developing Countries

The Case of Libya


1. FOCUS OF THE STUDY

1.1 Introduction

Major corporate ethical disasters impacting the environment, human resources, and the community have heightened the demand for public firms to voluntarily disclose their CSR[1] activities for stakeholders. As a result, CSR has become more than an important issue in the business world (Waller & Lanis 2009). In addition, CSR disclosure is an extension of the financial disclosure system, which reflects the wider anticipation of society concerning the role of the business community in the economy. Furthermore, with the rapid collapse of cross-border economic barriers and the globalization of business, progressively the role of CSR is being debated in an international arena (van der Laan Smith, Adhikari & Tondkar 2005). The WBSCD[2] (2000) (as cited in (May & Khare 2008, p. 240)) defined CSR as: "[T]he continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development, while improving that quality of life of the workforce and their families as of the local community at large"

Also, Mathews (1993, p. 64) has defined CSR disclosure as: "Voluntary disclosures of information, both qualitative and quantitative made by organizations to inform or influence a range of audiences. The quantitative disclosures may be in financial or non-financial terms".

According to these definitions, CSR activities and disclosure play a relevant role in OP[3]. In addition, CSR includes many activities such as community responsibilities, environmental responsibilities, employee responsibilities, investor responsibilities, customer responsibilities, and supplier responsibilities.

Many studies have emerged concerning the link between CSR and OP (Margolis & Walsh 2003; McWilliams, Siegel & Wright 2006). In the business context, Rettab, Brik & Mellahi (2009) notice that to date, there has not been a research focus on the examination of the strategic value of CSR in developing economies, despite the consensus between scholars and researchers about the impact of CSR activities disclosure creating more pressure on firms from several stakeholders to enhance their OP.

Crane et al (2005) notices that business systems differ from country to country. Therefore, this study will attempt to understand the institutional and managerial characteristics of different countries economies. In particular the institutional environment in the emerging economy of Libya has experienced dynamic changes over a short period of time (Mateos 2005). Libya is considered one of the most important producers of high quality and low sulphur oil and gas, and is strategically well placed to take advantage of the Mediterranean and European market. In addition, it is the members of the Organisation for Petroleum (World Markets Research Centre, 2002; Terterov, 2002) (as cited in (Abdulhamid et al. 2005)). Therefore, it possesses a significant world economic standing and has a unique economic and political system. During the last two decades, it was punished by the Security Council and was excluded from international investment with development almost totally frozen. However, from the year 2000 Libya has opened its commercial office in Libyan capital (Tripoli). Knipe and Venditti (2005, p.2) explain ( as cited in (Abdulhamid et al. 2005, p. 2) that "The city is coming in from the cold and Libya, a country endowed with Africa's largest reserves of oil, is about to make its mark on the regional and global economy". The main influential factor that leads to and regulates the attitude and behaviour of Arab societies, including Libya, is the Islamic religion. This is, according to Ali (1996, p. 6) due to the fact that

"[F]amily and other social institutions still command the respect of almost all individuals regardless of their social backgrounds. These institutions utilize Islam to sustain their endurance and influence...Islam is a comprehensive religion that regulates not only the ascetic but also the worldly tendencies. Almost all social, political, and military precepts are covered in the Quran along with the piety of the soul and moral aspects of individual behaviour."

In 1977, the political system has enabled the Libyan people to make decisions directly, and municipal people's congresses and basic people's congresses established across the country. These congresses have their own budgets with legislative and executive powers, and elect a secretariat to represent their decisions at the national general people's congress. they also approve the budget, laws and policies (Pratten & Mashat 2009). Figure (1) shows the structure of the people's congresses and peoples committee.

Libya has a special system which is based on what is called the third Universal Theory inside the Green Book. This system tackles the economic problems such as wages for production. Furthermore, these developments in Libya have led to unequal welfare distribution and unlimited market opportunities that have formed high incentives for opportunistic behaviour. Moreover, Libya established a public organisation for the environment in 2000. Also, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have characterised Libya as one of the developing countries which is attempting to rapidly move towards economic growth (UNDP 2007).

The business media often show unscrupulous firms resorting to socially irresponsible practices to gain high profits at the expense of employee welfare, customer safety, and the environment. Although the government has made some laws to regulate firms' conduct, many companies monitor and enforce such regulations themselves (Mellahi 2007). In spite of the will of political actors in most emerging economies expectancy fast economic growth such as China, India, and the UAE to disclose CSR activities on pollution, customer protection, and labour practices, the CSR remains at a low level of disclosure in these countries compared with western developed countries (Al-Khater & Naser 2003; Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009). Therefore, Libya has the same condition, as it is developing and growing economically. However, the level of CSR disclosure has increased since 2000 in Libya compared to previous years (Pratten & Mashat 2009) due to pressures from stakeholders which may influence OP for Libyan companies. Thus this study will attempt to examine the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of FP[4], EC[5], and CR[6].


1.2 Statement of the problem

Over the years, many studies have emerged concerning the relationship between CSR initiatives and OP (Margolis & Walsh 2003; McWilliams, Siegel & Wright 2006). Therefore, this study will examine the interrelations between corporate social responsibility disclosure and organizational performance in the Libyan context. This research defines CSR value as follows: to what extent firms are estimating their CSR activities, identifying important CSR activities for organizations in the Libyan context, and how they are managing these issues. Research on CSR disclosure and OP is limited in developing countries especially in the Libyan context, in spite of concerns from the stakeholders about the impact of CSR activities on OP. This research will investigate CSR and disclosure practices in Libya from different sectors (manufacturing sector; banks and insurance sector; services sector; and mining sector) and whether there is any difference between the industry sectors. In addition, this study investigates the question of how CSR activities, disclosure affects OP.


1.3 Research objective

The research project has four major objectives. First, it will evaluate the level of social disclosure relating to annual reporting within Libya. Second, the project will explore whether CSR disclosure affects OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR. Third, it will investigate CSR disclosure practices and OP under the stakeholder theory and value theory in the Libyan context. Finally, this research project seeks to assist firms in understanding the nature of the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP. The significance of understanding this relationship stems from one source: firms have incentives to utilise their CSR activities and ensure disclosure, to enhance their performance.

The research proposal is organised as follows the next sections provide a review the relevant literature and framework; research design (research question and conceptual framework) of the proposed research; research methodology (approach; sample and data collection; instrument and data analysis); the last section shows study motivation.


1.4 Scope of the study

This study focuses mainly on CSR disclosure (CSRD) that impacts on OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR. Identifying the level of CSR disclosure is employed by companies for stakeholder's frames the boundary of this study. In addition, it will focus on 77 of companies in the Libyan context (manufacturing companies; banks and insurance companies; and service companies; mining companies). To support the purpose of this study, several items of relevant literature have been reviewed to identify some gaps to be addressed in this research.



2. LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH FRAMEWORK

2.1 Theoretical perspectives

2.1.1 Stakeholder theory

Stakeholder theory involves the identification of a company's stakeholders and explains the ethical and social obligations of management to consider the interests of these stakeholders (Freeman 1984). This theory claims that a firm should provide their stakeholders with all the information necessary about their firm's performance in spite of different interests. Therefore, stakeholder theory considers that "the success of an organization depends on the extent to which the organization is capable of managing its relationship with key groups, such as financial and stakeholders, but also customers, employees, and even communities or societies." (van Beurden & Gössling 2008, p. 408). In addition, Freeman (1984) explains that stakeholder theory offers a pragmatic approach to strategy that motivates organisations to be cognizant of stakeholders to achieve appropriate performance. As Frederick notes (as cited in Laplume, Sonpar & Litz 2008, p. 1153) " the stakeholder idea fits into the mentality of strategically-minded corporate managers; in its latest phases, some companies are now justifying broader social policies and actions, not for normative reasons but for strategic purposes". Ullmann (1985) suggested (as cited in Sánchez & Sotorrío 2007) that stakeholder theory associates social disclosure with financial and social performance by combining three dimensions such as stakeholder power, the strategic position of the company concerning social activities, and the past and present financial efficiency of the organisation, to develop a theoretical framework. Sánchez and Sotorrío (2007) reveal that stakeholder power helps the identification of stakeholders' interests which need to be considered by companies; the strategic position of the company with regards to social activities describes companies' concerns about environmental and social issues emanating from stakeholders' demands; and the past and present financial efficiency of the organisation should be concerned with social issues as well. In addition, Donaldson and Preston (1995) indicated that originally, stakeholder theory emphasized shareholders' interests, and they made a case for the theory's normative base, where the moral, ethical and legal claims of all stakeholders of organizations were advocated. In addition, the concepts of CSR and stakeholder theory are fundamental to the study of business and society (Marom 2006). Moreover, stakeholder theory suggests that the stakeholders establish the social performance of their firms by means of a complex evaluation related to their expectations, which is represented by its reputation (Neville, Bell & Menguc 2005). Furthermore, the instrumental aspect of stakeholder theory focuses on the cause-effect relationships between corporate performance and stakeholder management practices (Marom 2006). Thus, this theory focuses on the importance of a correlative relationship between a firm's disclosure and key groups. This theory attempts to answer some questions about this relationship, such as: how far a company has performed its roles in accordance with the stakeholders' needs. Customers, for instance, need to know whether the product sold by the company does not use wood from illegal logging or whether it uses production technology that causes pollution. In addition, the theories deal with how organizations communicate with those stakeholders is important. Furthermore, is their firm's performance matching the stakeholders' demands? How do stakeholders evaluate the performance of these organizations? Gray, Kouhy and Lavers and O'Donovan (2002) point out (as cited in Deegan 2009) that stakeholder theory is overlapping with small differences in explaining the firms' behaviour toward the society. Moreover, stakeholder theory posits that organizations are performing in order to fulfilling the expectations of particular stakeholders who are able to impact on their performance. Previous studies (e.g. Buchholz & Rosenthal 2004; Cormier, Gordon & Magnan 2004; Schwarzkopf 2006) show that stakeholder theory is used to explain improvements in business organisational performance while providing disclosures to create better relationships between companies and their stakeholders.

Although there are many studies that found the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR to be a positive relationship (Aguilera et al. 2007; Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009; Saleh, Zulkifli & Muhamad 2008; Simpson & Kohers 2002; Waddock & Graves 1997), there are studies which found a negative and mixed relationship (Griffin & Mahon 1997; Wright & Ferris 1997). Thus, this theory has been supported by some studies (e.g. Neville, Bell & Menguc 2005; Orlitzky, Schmidt & Rynes 2003; Peloza & Papania 2008; Sánchez & Sotorrío 2007; van Beurden & Gössling 2008).

2.1.2 Value theory

Value theory claims that although stakeholders are different in terms of their value priorities, the interest of a stakeholder's value system is universal. This means that the stakeholders differ only in terms of the relative importance that they place on these universally important value types (Siltaoja 2006). Therefore, large firms have as many reputations as there are distinctive groups that take an interest in them (Bromley 2002). In addition, MacMillan et al (2005) points out that stakeholders (employees, shareholders, customers, community, investors, supplies) prefer coherence with a common concern for a reputation entity. Hence, in order to maintain these firms' reputations, they should improve the relationship with their stakeholders via CSR disclosure.

Many studies set out the importance of stakeholder perceptions in order to understand the nature of a firms reputation (Dowling 2004). In addition, Siltaoja (2006, p. 95) suggests that "value [is an] over arching matter, meaning a company with good reputation has values, which suit to individuals own values". Value theory was employed to explore the nature of CSR and corporate reputation using qualitative (Siltaoja 2006). Schwartz's study (1999) shows ten motivationally distinct types of values such as power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, benevolence, and security that enable scholars to use them in culture world wide. These motivations are included within CSR actions that are disclosed in annual reports of firms. Furthermore, there are other studies that explain the eight most common survey instruments to use in order to create values (measures) through corporate reputation such as Fombrun, Gardberg and Sever (2000). One of the most used measures (values) is the Reputation QuotientSM that consists of six measures (values).

Thus, this study will use CSR disclosure that is variously associated with reputation via the Reputation QuotientSM to determine the relationships between CSR disclosure and CR through value theory.

2.2 Review of the related literature

2.2.1 CSR disclosure and organisational performance

Researchers' efforts have been made to comprehend the impact of CSR activities on OP (Husted & Allen 2000; Husted & de Jesus Salazar 2006; Marom 2006; McWilliams & Siegel 2001; Moneva, Rivera-Lirio & Mu oz-Torres 2007; Orlitzky, Schmidt & Rynes 2003; Wright & Ferris 1997). The above studies found that there is a relationship between CSR activities, disclosure and OP but which indicates positive, negative, mixed, and non-significant results. On the one hand, some studies found that there is a positive relationship between CSR activities and OP (DeMaCarty 2009; Marom 2006; May & Khare 2008; Peloza 2009; Ruf et al. 2001; Saleh, Zulkifli & Muhamad 2008; Simpson & Kohers 2002; van Beurden & Gössling 2008; Waddock & Graves 1997). Furthermore, Rettab, Brik & Mellahi (2009) revealed that there is a positive relationship between CSR activities and OP in developing countries (UAE firms) in Dubai. On the other hand, some studies have reported a negative relationship Vance (1975) and Mackinlay (1997) (as cited in Park & Lee 2009) and Wright and Ferris (1997) or no significant relationship (Aupperle et al, 1985; Davidson and Worrell, 1990; Preston, 1978; Spicer, 1980) (as cited in Park & Lee 2009); and McWilliams and Siegel (2000) between CSR and OP. However, these findings cannot be generalised from western developed economies to developing countries without further research because of different business systems.

In Libya, there is no research about the impact of CSR disclosure on OP. Figure (2) shows the relationship between CSR, disclosure and the factors of estimating OP.

2.2.2 CSR disclosure and financial performance (FP)

Financial performance (FP) is considered one of the most important indicators of the strategic value of CSR (Orlitzky, Schmidt & Rynes 2003). Researchers started the empirical study of CSR and FP over three decades ago in western countries. There are two types of empirical studies of the relationship between CSR and FP. The first set uses the event study methodology to measure short-term financial impact when companies engage in socially responsible or irresponsible acts (e.g. Hannon & Milkovich 1996; Margolis & Walsh 2003; McWilliams & Siegel 2000; Orlitzky, Schmidt & Rynes 2003; Saleh, Zulkifli & Muhamad 2008; Wright & Ferris 1997). The relationship between CSR and FP was mixed in the results of these studies. For instance, McWilliams & Siegel (2000) revealed no relationship, Wright & Ferris (1997) found that the relationship between CSR and FP was negative and Saleh, Zulkifli & Muhamad (2008) that it was a positive relationship. In addition, Margolis and Walsh (2003) found that 4% of the 160 studies examined reported a negative relationship between CSR and FP, 55% a positive relationship, for 22% there was no relationship, and 18% reported a mixed relationship. Furthermore, Orlitzky, Schmidt and Rynes (2003) achieved another meta-analysis and revealed similar results. While other studies are not similarly stable concerning the relationship between CSR and short-term financial return (McWilliams & Siegel 2001).

The examination of the nature of the relationship between measures for long-term financial performance and measures of CSR is the second set that is used from accounting and financial measures of profitability (e.g. Aguilera et al. 2007; Mahoney & Roberts 2007; McGuire, Sundgren & Schneeweis 1988; McWilliams & Siegel 2000; Simpson & Kohers 2002; Waddock & Graves 1997). They also gained mixed results in these studies. Waddock & Graves (1997) and Simpson & Kohers (2002) found a significant positive relationship between CSR and profitability. While McGuire, Sundgren & Schneeweis (1988) revealed that subsequent performance was less closely related to CSR than prior performance. Aguilera et al (2007) discuss the relationship between CSR and FP. They found that there is strong evidence for a positive and significant association between them. In addition, McWilliams and Siegel (2000) examined the relationship between two with a regression model that measures financial performance as the dependent variable while social performance as the independent variable during the period 1991-1996 for 524 large companies. They concluded that there was no link between CSR and FP if the regression model was properly specified. Moreover, Simpson & Kohers (2002) tested the relationship between CSR and FP in the banking industry. The community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was used as a social performance measure. They found that there is a positive relationship between CSR and FP. Griffin & Mahon (1997) revealed that the relationship between CSR and FP was mixed between a positive and negative relationship. However, most of the findings found a positive relationship. Furthermore, Moore & Robson (2002) analysed the link between CSR and FP of eight firms. They used the derivation of a 16-measure social performance index and a 4-measure financial performance index. They depended on statistically significant results. They found a positive relationship between CSR and FP in spite of small numbers of firms. Mahoney & Roberts (2007) also examined the relationship between CSR and FP in a large sample of public companies during four years of panel data in Canada. This study yielded no significant relationship between them. Yet, they revealed a significant relationship between some CSR activities such as environmental and international activities and FP. Finally, Rettab, Brik & Mellahi (2009) in the UAE market as an emerging economy conducted the latest study of CSR and FP. They tested the relationship in 280 industries (manufacturing, trading and repairing services, hotels and restaurants, real estate, rental, and business services, education, banking and financial services, mining and quarrying, and others). Although there are some challenges that have contributed to ineffective engagement with stakeholders and the lack of communication of CSR activities, they found a strong positive relationship between CSR and FP.

All of the studies above were done in western countries and the US except the Rettab, Brik, and Mellahi study. Rettab, Brik & Mellahi (2009) examined the relationship between CSR and FP by questionnaire, while this study will examine the relationship between CSR disclosure through annual reports and FP. This indicates that there is limited research that has investigated CSR disclosure and FP in developing countries. In addition, no known study has examined the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP in Libya. Therefore, this study will attempt to contribute in this area and may facilitate more intensive research on CSR disclosure and FP links outside of western countries and US markets in the future, especially in Libya as a developing and emerging country. Based on the above, this study's hypothesis is that:

H1: There is a relationship between CSR disclosure and financial performance (FP) in Libya.

2.2.3 CSR disclosure and employee commitment (EC)

Employees are considered one of the most important factors in a firm; they affect an organisation in fundamental ways. Therefore, "the effective delivery of corporate social and environmental responsibility initiatives is dependent on employee responsiveness" (Collier, Esteban & Street 2007, p. 22). In recent years, employee commitment has been one of the most studied indicators of the strategic value of CSR. Jaworski and Kohli (1993, p 60) (as cited in (Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009)) employee commitment is defined as:

"[T]he extent to which a business unit's employees are fond of the organisation, and see their future tried to that of the organisation, and are willing to make personal sacrifices for the business unit"

Carroll (1979) suggests that CSR and community contributions reflect the way in which a firm interacts with the physical environment and its ethical stance towards consumers and other external stakeholders. External CSR relates to internal and external information sources including the media and personal experiences within the company which may be expected to base the opinion of their employees about these activities. Employees and managers have a greater stake in the success of the corporation than investor, owners, because their jobs and economic livelihood are at stake (Post 2003). Branco and Rodrigues (2006) suggest that CSR disclosure leads to important results in the creation or deletion of other fundamentally intangible resources, and may help build a positive image with employees and managers. Maignan and Ferrell (2001), Maignan and Ferrell (2004), Backhaus, Stone and Heiner (2002), Brammer, Millington and Rayton (2007), and Peterson (2004) expected that there is a positive relationship between CSR and EC. Furthermore, Albinger and Freeman (2000), Backhaus, Stone and Heiner (2002), Greening and Turban (2000), Maignan, Ferrell and Hult (1999), and Peterson (2004) revealed that there actually is relationship between CSR and EC. At the same time, the relationship between procedural justice and affective commitment may be expected to be positive because employees may be expected to identify with ethical organizations (Brammer & Millington 2005). The existing literature provides compelling empirical support for these arguments; a strong relationship has been found between the ethical climate of organizations and job satisfaction (Koh & Boo 2001; Viswesvaran, Deshpande & Joseph 1998) and studies about the relationship between organizational commitment and procedural justice suggest that they are positively and significantly related (Albinger & Freeman 2000; Backhaus, Stone & Heiner 2002; Cohen-Charash & Spector 2001; Greening & Turban 2000; Meyer et al. 2002; Peterson 2004; Turban & Greening 1997). Overall past studies illustrate that a firms social responsibility deal with matter to its employee and expect to have a positive impact on EC (Albinger & Freeman 2000; Backhaus, Stone & Heiner 2002; Cohen-Charash & Spector 2001; Greening & Turban 2000; Meyer et al. 2002; Peterson 2004; Turban & Greening 1997). These studies also illustrated that a firm's social responsibility deals with matters that relate to its employees and can be expected to have a positive impact on employee's commitment. In addition, Maignan et al (1999) expected that firms that disclose CSR activities might enjoy enhanced levels of EC for two reasons: they are devoted to ensuring the quality of the workplace experience, and they inform their stakeholders about social issues such as the welfare of the community or the protection of the environment.

Rupp et al (2006) noticed that employees' perceptions of their firms CSR activities lead their perceptions of the firm. In addition, firms that disclose CSR activities work to ensure their employees protection through fair and socially responsible practices (Rupp et al. 2006). Thus, it can be seen that firms that engage in CSR activities should result in a positive relationship in relation to their EC because they might earn employees commitment compared with firms that do not engage in appropriate CSR activities (Aguilera et al. 2007). In addition, a positive relationship between CSR and FP is more likely to lead a positive relationship between CSR and EC (Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009). Rettab, Brik and Mellahi (2009) found that there is a positive relationship between CSR and EC in the UAE market. One the other hand, Turker (2009) found that there is no link between CSR to government and the commitment level of employee by using social identity theory.

Most of the studies above indicated that there is a positive relationship between CSR and EC, whereas few studies found a negative, insignificant and fixed relationship between them. In addition, there is limited research that has investigated CSR disclosure and EC in developing countries. Furthermore, no known study has examined the relationship between CSR disclosure and EC in Libya. Therefore, the proposed research hypothesis is that:

H2: There is a relationship between CSR disclosure and employee commitment (EC) in Libya.

2.2.4 CSR disclosure and corporate reputation (CR)

There is significant research which provides evidence to define corporate reputation (CR) as according to Siltaoja (2006, p. 91):

"the most important competitive advantage that companies can have [by]... assessments about what the organisation is, how well it meets its commitments and conforms to stakeholders' expectations, how effectively its overall performance fits with its socio-political environments".

CR also is "a fundamental intangible element in the generation of competitive advantages for an organisation" (Neville, Bell & Menguc 2005, p. 337). Emerging CSR lead to enhanced corporate reputation whereas non-emerging CSR leads to destroyed CR for a firm. According to McWilliams and Siegel (2001, p. 120) CSR "creates a reputation that a firm is reliable and honest". Similarly, (Battacharya & Sen, 2003 as cited in Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009, p. 377) that shows CSR "builds a reservoir of goodwill that firms can draw upon in times of crisis". Additionally, some companies may employ social responsibility disclosure as one of the informational signals upon which stakeholders base their assessments of CR under conditions of incomplete information (Branco & Rodrigues 2006). Also, Branco and Rodrigues (2006) explain that enhancing the effects of CSR in CR is a particularly important aspect of CSR disclosure. In addition, Hooghiemstra (2000) argues that one of the most important communication instruments that is used by firms to enhance, create, and protect their images or reputations is CSR disclosure. Moreover, it is not easy to create a positive reputation without making the associated disclosures for firms investing in social responsibility activities to realise the value of such reputation (Hasseldine, Salama & Toms 2005; Toms 2002). Furthermore, Toms (2002) explains that disclosure in annual reports, disclosure of environmental policies and their implementation were found to contribute explicitly to creating a positive CR. Besides that, Toms (2002), and Hasseldine, Salama and Toms (2005) found that the qualitative nature of environmental disclosure is more important than the quantitative nature of environmental disclosure, and has a strong effect on the creation, enhancement, and protection of CR. Thus, the relationship between CSR disclosure and CR should be clear and positive.

However, the relationship between CSR and CR in developing countries as well as emerging economies is not explicit. Although the link between CSR and CR is not straightforward in emerging economies, the link between CSR and EC is observed because employees are able to observe their firms CSR activities, and thus the impact of CSR on corporate reputation can be measured (Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009). It can be observed in the national media or in the annual report. Communicating effectively a with wide range of stakeholders enables firms to demonstrate their ability to enhance their CR. Therefore, firms operate in accordance with social and ethical criteria; they are able to create a positive reputation, but failing to do so can be a source of risk to their reputation (Branco & Rodrigues 2006).

The growing attention to reputation has helped to increase a number of different construct measures (Helm 2005). Fombrun (1998) engages six criteria that appear to dominate the construction of reputation in the annual reports: community involvement, employee treatment, product quality, financial performance, environmental performance and organizational issues. Most of these criteria represent some CSR activities. Lewis (2001) lists similar criteria but with an emphasis on responsibility: product quality, customer service, treatment of staff, financial performance, quality of management, environmental responsibility and social responsibility. Schultz, Mouritsen and Gabrielsen (2001) showed the reputation criteria as being based on environmental responsibility, price, human resources, internationalization, financial strength and importance to society. Therefore, all of these criteria affect corporate reputation. Peterson (2004) noted that recent corporate experience in the oil and pharmaceuticals industries has emphasized negative consequences for CR which is more likely to flow from inappropriate behaviour towards the environment or consumers. At the same time, Brammer and Millington (2005) have found positive relationships between CR and CSR activities and Hess, Rogovsky and Dunfee (2002) have shown a similar relationship between corporate involvement in social causes and reputation. Also, Clarke and Gibson-Sweet (1999) note that the importance of the use of corporate disclosure is considered an effective factor in the management of reputation and legitimacy. Finally, Rettab, Brik and Mellahi (2009) found that there is a positive relationship between CSR and CR in the UAE market.

Most of the studies above were done in western countries and the US except Rettab, Brik, and Mellahi's (2009) study. This indicates that there is limited research that has investigated CSR, disclosure and CR in developing countries. In addition, no known study has examined the relationship between CSR, disclosure and CR in Libya. Regarding the conflict about the expected direction of this relationship, this research project hypothesises that:

H3: There is a relationship between CSR disclosure and corporate reputation (CR) in Libya.


2.3 Gaps in the literature and the contribution

After reviewing the literature, this study identified the following gaps: firstly, all studies evaluating CSR disclosure in Libya have not examined the link between CSR disclosure and OP. In addition, the amount of research is limited that has investigated the impact of CSR disclosure practices on OP either in Australia or internationally especially the relationship between CSR disclosure and CR. Furthermore, the linkage between CSR disclosure and OP in developing countries is inexplicit because there are two studies about this relationship whereas there is no published study that is Libya-specific. Finally, most of the previous studies about OP have not included FP, EC, and CR in the measurement of performance.

To fill these gaps, this study will discuss conceptual CSR disclosure in Libya and its impact on OP by utilizing social disclosure in the annual reports, employee measures, and CR measures (Reputation QuotientSM). Therefore, this study is supported by previous studies (e.g. Blowfield & Frynas 2005; Helm 2005; May & Khare 2008; Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009).

The points that follow will explain how the study contributes to knowledge. First, this research will contribute to the literature relating to CSR disclosure in Libya. In addition, it will examine the relationship between CSR and OP because there is a lack of research focusing on CSR disclosure and OP in developing countries. There are only two studies that have focused on CSR and OP in the Emirates Arabic united (EAU) in terms of FP, EC and CR while another study in Malaysia examined the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP. Furthermore, the contribution of this study is not only restricted to the Libyan environment. It is extending to the wider field of CSR research. It will be especially relevant for both western countries, and developing countries. Secondly, this study will develop a comprehensive definition and measures for CSR disclosure and OP. Thirdly, it extends prior research that links CSR disclosure with FP, EC, and CR, by investigating the association between CSR disclosure and OP. Finally, this study is the first known study in Libya to investigate the interrelations between CSR disclosure and OP. It also will provide insights into CSR disclosure and OP and whether the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in the Libya context is positive, negative, or mixed. Thus, this study will make a significant contribution to the growing body of literature in the area of developing countries in terms of the area of concern.


3. RESEARCH DESIGN

3.1 Research questions

This project will focus on the existence and extent of the relationships between CSR activities disclosure and organisational performance (OP). Therefore, the main question to be investigated is:

What is the extent of the association between corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure and organisational performance (OP) in Libyan companies (manufacturing sector, banks and insurance sector, services sector; and mining sector)?

The following sub-questions have been designed in order to answer the main question:

1. What is the extent of the association between corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure and financial performance (FP)?

2. What is the extent of the association between corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure and employee commitment (EC)?

3. What is the extent of the association between corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure and corporate reputation (CR)?

3.2 Conceptual framework

Previous studies contribute to the current debate on the effectiveness of CSR disclosure, as there is widespread and growing concern about corporate social performance. They note the existence of a correlation between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR. Therefore, this study assumes a link by stakeholder and value theory between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR and its contribution towards improving OP, (See Figure 3). Pratten and Mashat (2009) note that there is increasing the level of social disclosure in Libyan companies compared to previous years due to increasing demands from stakeholders.

Stakeholder theory will be employed in investigating the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP. Orlitzky, Schmidt and Rynes (2003) use some measures of CSR disclosure and some accounting measures such as revenue and return on equity. In addition, stakeholder theory will be used to explain the level of social disclosure and its impact on OP. Thus, stakeholder theory will be utilized to explain ethical and moral activities and to consider the interests of companies' stakeholders (Freeman 1984) in disclosing environmental and social performance (Cormier, Gordon & Magnan 2004; Elijido-Ten 2005). The theory will also help to find the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR.

Value theory will be used to explain and determine the relationship between CSR, disclosure and CR. This study will utilize measures of CSR, disclosure and CR. In order to determine the relationship, this study will use reputation QuotientSM which consists of six measures (values). Each measure presents value for stakeholders. Thus, value theory will be employed to explain ethical and moral activities that are considered important for stakeholders in companies (Siltaoja 2006). In addition, this study will employ stakeholder theory and value theory to investigate the relationship between CSR, disclosure and CR.



4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

4.1 Approach

The study employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to collect and analyse data using triangulation for credibility (Kreuger & Neuman 2006), thus avoiding social bias, and building strong results (Gorard & Taylor 2004; Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004; Kreuger & Neuman 2006). Although mixed methods use different approaches for data collections and analysis, mixed methods can be productive in analysing various sources of data and to support the interpretation between the two methods (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004; Somekh & Lewin 2005). Somekh and Lewin (2005) suggest that although the concepts of data collection and analysis are different between quantitative and qualitative methods, mixed methods can be productive in analysing various sources of data, resulting in data being more reliable and trustworthy. Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) also claim that mixed methods enable the application of quantitative results to support the interpretation of qualitative results. Also, Leedy and Ormrod (2005) state that:

'To answer some research questions, we cannot skim across the surface. We must dig deep to get a complete understanding of the phenomenon we are studying. In qualitative research we do indeed dig deep'.

Regarding the qualitative approach, more information will be provided in both data collection and data analysis sections. Thus, mixed methods will be employed for this study.

As an exploratory study, this study will employ the quantitative method of surveys to identify the relationship between CSR, disclosure and OP that are intended to be employed by companies for social disclosure.

The results of the survey will be used to compare with an analysis of CSR disclosure in Libyan companies by using qualitative methods. In employing a qualitative approach, this study will investigate and evaluate levels of CSR disclosure and OP of Libyan companies from different industry sectors (manufacturing sector, banks and insurance sector, and services sector, mining sector). Using multiple case studies is considered an appropriate approach for this study to create a deeper understanding of existing business activities without pre-expectation and/or prediction (Patton 1990). This study will use inductive analysis as a paradigm of choice (Patton 1990) to analyse EC and CR of Libyan companies. In addition, secondary data, such as analysing annual reports of companies will also be explored to identify levels of CSR disclosure, from the past three years that support measures. Secondary data will be useful for this study because it saves time and is a cost effective way of collecting data to support the quantitative and qualitative research methods adopted (Davis & Cosenza 2000).

4.2 Sample and data collection

The sample of this study will consist of seventy seven Libyan companies. The sample represents four different sectors. These sectors include (based on the classification presented by the Public Control Office) Manufacturing companies, financial service enterprises (banks and insurance companies), other service companies, and mining companies. A three-year period from 2006 to 2008 was chosen for this study. This study will use a survey of organisations, interview questions and annual reports to measure the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in terms of EC, FP, and CR. This sample is expected to yield around 400 responses from managers and employees, while interviews with 5 financial managers (from each company) will be conducted. Semi-structured interviewees will be conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the quantitative data gathered and analysed (Kreuger & Neuman 2006). Interviews will be conducted taking an estimated time of between 30 and 45 minutes. Examination of company's annual reports for 2006-2008 has been chosen to determine the level of CSR disclosure and to measure the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP. This sample is expected to yield around 450 annual reports (2006-2008) from 50 companies. The researcher uses corporate annual reports as the main source of social information. Simple random sampling of the population is considered an appropriate method for this study to create an equal probability of every company being selected (Breakwell et al. 2006; Kreuger & Neuman 2006).

Data on EC and CR in the Libyan companies will be collected through a survey of organisations (questionnaires). The survey will be designed in Arabic because all samples are Arabic companies. This study will depend on three sources of data collection to ensure validity of data. Furthermore, this study will depend on annual reports to examine the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP, whereas it will depend on annual reports and the questionnaires to examine the relationship between CSR disclosure and EC as well as CR. On the other hand, the companies to be studied using qualitative and quantitative methods will be evaluated in terms of the levels of CSR disclosure and OP in terms of EC, FP and CR. Therefore, this study is designed to examine seventy seven companies that are applying the best social disclosure in their annual reports. As a result, the purposive sampling method will assist to determine impact of CSR disclosure on OP in terms of FP, EC, and CR. Thus, this study will employ quantitative and qualitative approaches to obtain appropriate data for credibility and reliability.

4.3 Instruments

To achieve the objectives and purposes of this study the researcher will use three data collection methods: (interview questions, survey questionnaire, and secondary data). Interview questions will evaluate levels of CSR and OP in terms of EC, FP and CR in selected companies in Libya. Note taking will be used to write headings and main concepts being addressed, while tape recorders will be employed to record responses of participants. In addition, data gathered by the annual reports will be analysed to test hypotheses (1) for a three year period. Moreover, Data gathered by the questionnaires and from the annual reports will be analysed to test hypotheses (2, 3). Questions will be adopted from previous studies, which will enhance the validity and reliability of the instruments to be used. In the questionnaire, 5-point Likert-type scale will be used for the measurement of the constructs.

4.4 Data analysis

4.4.1 Quantitative data analysis

Quantitative data will be explored to check missing data and extreme values before the analysis process is initiated. If data appears missing, it will be imputed with mean values from the rest of the responses. Descriptive statistics will be conducted in making some general observations about the data gathered. Multivariate techniques will primarily be used to analyse both primary and secondary data. Firstly, applications of regression analysis will be employed to identify and analyse the relationship between both dependent and independent variables (Hair et al. 1998). Other interpretative statistical tests will be run on opinions and perception data will be collected using Likert-type scales.

The measurement procedures in the present study will employ many phases:

a. Descriptive statistics

This study will use descriptive statistics in order to test collected data in terms of distribution and normality, and to provide information about levels of CSR disclosure for these companies.

b. Correlation analysis

The correlation analysis will be used to explore the relationship between variables that have been used in this study. These variables include dependent variables: FP, EC, and CR; independent variables: CSR activities disclosure that include environmental categories, consumers categories, community involvement categories, and employees categories; and the control variables such as the size of the firm, the sector of activities firms, and the age of the firm.

c. Multivariate regression models

This study employs the following regression models to examine the proposed hypotheses:

1. Hypothesis (1)

To examine the link between CSR disclosure and financial performance (FP), the study will utilise the following regression model drawn from Rettab, Brik and Mellahi (2009). The following model indicates the use of time series analyses for the estimated period of (2006-2008) in the case of Libya.

FP = + 1 CSRD + 2 SIZE + 3 AGE + 4 SEC +................................................... (1)

Where FP is the dependant variable (in this study it refers to financial performance measures, return on investment, revenue, and return on assets as dependent variable; CSRD represents the independent variables (in this study it refers to the variables CSR, Dimensions of CSR, namely, Employee Relation (EMPL), Community involvement (COM), Consumers (CONS), Environment (ENV), and all of the control variables including the age of the firm (AGE), the sector of activity (SEC), and the Size of the firm (SIZE); B is the coefficient of the independent variables. Furthermore, this study will test the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP.

2. Hypothesis (2)

To test the relationship between CSR disclosure and employee commitment (EC), this study will employ regression for the employee performance measure; with the control variables which are the size of the firm, the age of the firm, and the sector of activity. The following model indicates the use of time series analyses for the estimated period of (2006-2008) in the case of Libya.

EC = + 1 CSRD + 2 SIZE + 3 AGE + 4 SEC +.................................................. (2)

Where EC is the dependant variable (in this study it refers to employee commitment measures as dependent variable); CSRD represents the independent variables, and all of the control variables including the age of the firm (AGE), the sector of activity (SEC), and the Size of the firm (SIZE); B is the coefficient of the independent variables.

3. Hypothesis (3)

To examine the relationship between CSR disclosure and corporate reputation (CR), this study will employ regression for corporate reputation measure; with the control variables which are the size of the firm, the age of the firm, and the sector of activity. The following model indicates the use of time series analyses for the estimated period of (2006-2008) in the case of Libya.

CR = + 1 CSRD + 2 SIZE + 3 AGE + 4 SEC +.................................................. (3)

Where CR is the dependant variable (in this study it refers to corporate reputation measures, the reputation QuotientSM as dependent variable; CSRD represents the independent variables, all of the control variables including the age of the firm (AGE) , the sector of activity(SEC), and the Size of the firm (SIZE), B is the coefficient of the independent variables.

4.4.2 Qualitative data analysis

Qualitative method will be employed in this study in order to determine levels of CSR disclosure and their impact on OP in terms of FP, EC and CR, and also to gain an in depth understanding of the phenomenon being researched. Qualitative data analysis and interpretation will be used in the study to support the questionnaire in this stage. This stage will present a descriptive analysis of the data collected from the interviews in order to investigate the relationship between CSR disclosure and FP, EC and CR. Data which is gathered from interviews will be recorded by note taking and Tape recorders which will be used to write headings and main concepts being addressed, and to record responses of participants categorized (Leedy & Ormrod 2005). Qualitative data will be analysed using contain analysis method. According to Siltaoja (2006, p. 97) "[t]he method has two main tendencies: it may analyse the data either from a qualitative or a quantitative approach". Content analysis can be employed in various ways: it is used to describe societies, organisations, and cultural models group in order to reveal the social attachments of individuals, groups and organisations, or to describe the content of communication (Weber 1990). The results of the current study will be in the form of categories (Polit & Hungler 1995) or conceptual maps (Weber 1990). The words 'category' and 'conceptual map' will be utilized synonymously in this study. To analyse the data collection, content analysis will use three stages. The first stage is data reduction that the interviewee's stories will reduce to descriptions of one or two sentences which will make in different categories related to the subject. The second stage is data display. The gained categories will be divided into supplementary subcategories and then analysed category by category as set out in the interview guide (Kyngäs & Vanhanen 1999). The last stage is extractions of conclusions.



5. STUDY MOTIVATION

The main motivation for this study is the ongoing concern about the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP in the business world (Margolis & Walsh 2003; McWilliams, Siegel & Wright 2006). The CSR literature is dominated by empirical research in the industrialized countries of Western Europe, the USA and Australia. The vast majority of comparative research of CSR has also focused on analyses and evaluations of the differences and similarities of CSR practices and their impact on OP in these countries alone ( (DeMaCarty 2009; Husted & Allen 2007; May & Khare 2008; Pratten & Mashat 2009; Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009); (DeMaCarty 2009). Research on CSR disclosure and OP is limited in developing countries especially in the Libyan context in spite of concerns from the stakeholders about the impact of CSR disclosure on OP (Pratten & Mashat 2009). In addition, some of these studies were undertaken in the context of newly industrialised countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and some African countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda (Belal 2001). In relation to the Arab world context, in which Libya occupies an important position, there is still a paucity of research on CSR practices (e.g. Abu-Baker & Naser 2000; Al-Khater & Naser 2003; Jahamani 2003).

Therefore, much of the previous research recommends performing future research to investigate and understand the nature of the relationship between CSR disclosure and OP through quantitative research and qualitative research (via interviews or case studies) due to the lack of research especially in terms of the relationship between CSR disclosure and CR, and EC. It would appear that from a research perspective (Bebbington, Larrinaga & Moneva 2004, 2008; Hasseldine, Salama & Toms 2005; Rettab, Brik & Mellahi 2009; Rose & Thomsen 2004).

Islamic religion is considered one of the most important motives behind the increase in pressure to achieve social activities and disclosing them. Islamic societies are also varied in terms of their notions of CSR and their disclosure, which may vary. Hence Libya is a particularly interesting country, as socialist and Islamic factors could identify the nature of disclosure. According to Pratten and Mashat (2009, p. 312) "the Islamic influence adds further demands on legislation, behaviour, and industrial change". Furthermore, Libya has a unique economic and political system. It is different compared to classical or bourgeois societies. It is based on the Third Universal Theory and it derives its basic values from the Green Book. The main influential factor that leads and regulates the attitudes and behaviour of Arab societies, including Libya, is the Islamic religion (Pratten & Mashat 2009). Therefore, the religion and the Green Book were concluded to be the motivating factors for such contributions to socially responsible business conduct.

Libya is considered one of the most important producers of high quality and low sulphur oil and gas, and is strategically well placed to take advantage of the Mediterranean and European market. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have characterised Libya as one of the developing countries which is attempting to rapidly move towards economic growth (UNDP 2007). Moreover, Libya established a public organisation for the environment in 2000 to reduce the negative effects of environment. The level of social disclosure has increased since 2000 in Libya compared to previous years (Pratten & Mashat 2009) due to pressures from stakeholders which may influence organisational performance for Libyan companies. Thus, there is a need to examine the relationship between CSR, disclosure and OP in Libya in order to fill up some gaps in the literature.



6. TIME SCHEDULE

The researcher will seek to use the following plan for conducting the research.


No

Task

Start time

Finish time

1

Complete literature review,  research design and methodology chapters, Design questionnaire and gain ethical clearance

1 Des. 2009

15 Sep. 2010

3

Data collection

16 Sep 2010

31 Jan. 2011

4

Analysis, interpret quantitative data and write up results

1 Feb. 2011

31 Mar.2011

5

Analysis, interpret qualitative data and write up results

1 Apr. 2011   

30 Jun.2011

6

Interpret the overall results

1 Jul. 2011

30 Sep. 2011

7

Finalise the first draft of findings and results

1 Oct. 2011

31 Des. 2011

8

Write up the first version of the discussion and conclusion

1 Jan. 2012

31 Mar. 2012  

9

Re-review the literature and writing the draft of the thesis

1 Apr.2012

31 May. 2012   

10

Finalise the final thesis

1 Jun. 2012

31 Aug. 2012

11

Submit thesis

1 Sep. 2012



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