Special Issue "Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Engagement, and Universities"

A special issue of Administrative Sciences (ISSN 2076-3387). This special issue belongs to the section "Organizational Behavior".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 32622

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Special Issue Editors

Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
Interests: IPSASs; public sector accounting harmonization; university performance measurement system; SDGs; non financial information; integrated reporting; gender reporting; accounting education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dipartimento di Economia, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", 81100 Caserta, Italy
Interests: financial reporting; disclosure; earning management; corporate governance; public sector accounting and performance management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
Interests: performance measurement in the university; fair value; business combination; intellectual capital and international accounting standards in both the private and public sectors
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
Interests: intellectual capital; corporate risk disclosure; integrated reporting; local banks accounting and local food sector
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an increasingly relevant topic in the current university context because they play a key role in modern society and contribute (socially and economically) to the local community’s development.

A considerable number of recent studies suggest that CSR should be one of the core functions of universities, and the adoption of CSR is suggested as a suitable approach for universities to become responsible corporate citizens for stakeholders, communities, and societies.

Therefore, CSR is not a philanthropic activity but rather an orientation that is integrated into the mandate and programming of the university; consequently, universities are encouraged to adopt CSR in all disciplines of teaching methodologies, curricula, research, and university strategies.

Given these premises, the main aim of this Special Issue is to stimulate the debate about the interplay among CSR, stakeholder engagement, university missions, and social impacts to discuss the role of public universities in promoting the public good and in helping to address development challenges facing our society.

The Special Issue will consider contributions related but not limited to the following topics:

•          The institutionalization of CSR in public universities;
•          The connection between CSR and the universities’ third mission;
•          CSR reporting and stakeholder engagement: theoretical and practical implications;
•          Policies and incentives to CSR research in university;
•          Corporate governance and CSR;
•          CSR teaching and stakeholder engagement: teaching with praxis stakeholders;
•          CSR and universities teaching activity: challenges of integrating CSR into curricula.

References:

Aversano N., Di Carlo F., Sannino G., Tartaglia Polcini P., Lombardi R., (2020), Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Engagement and Universities: New Evidence from the Italian Scenario. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 1892-1899.

Mehta, S. R. (2011). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and universities: Towards an integrative approach. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 1, No., pp. 300–304.

MuijenHeidi, H. S. (2004). Corporate social responsibility starts at university. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 53, No. 1-2, pp. 235-246.

Rahman, A. A., Castka, P., & Love, T. (2019). Corporate social responsibility in higher education: A study of the institutionalisation of CSR in Malaysian public universities. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 916–928.

Vasilescu, R., Barna, C., Epure, M., & Baicu, C. (2010). Developing university social responsibility: A model for the challenges of the new civil society. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 2., pp. 4177–4182.

Prof. Natalia Aversano
Prof. Giuseppe Sannino
Prof. Paolo Tartaglia Polcini
Dr. Giuseppe Nicolò
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • corporate social responsibility
  • universities
  • stakeholder engagement

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial
Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Engagement, and Universities
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12030079 - 12 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1239
Abstract
In recent decades, there have been increasing concerns about the role of organizations in society and their impact on climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, health crises, and human rights’ inequalities (Yanez et al [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Universities and CSR Teaching: New Challenges and Trends
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12020055 - 28 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1860
Abstract
This paper aims to analyse how universities are currently improving CSR teaching, pointing out some new challenges and trends emerging from a context in which CSR issues have become increasingly important. The research provides a longitudinal study of the literature for a period [...] Read more.
This paper aims to analyse how universities are currently improving CSR teaching, pointing out some new challenges and trends emerging from a context in which CSR issues have become increasingly important. The research provides a longitudinal study of the literature for a period of 20 years. After screening the retrieved documents, we based our analysis on 31 main scientific documents. Our findings highlight how universities are improving CSR teaching by utilising the development of new curricula and new teaching methods, such as case methods, service learning, problem-based learning, and action and experiential learning. The paper is novel because it explores how the request for human resources with CSR skills forced universities to widen their teaching programs. Our findings suggest valuable and useful insights for the academic and professional community. Full article
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Article
Gender Reporting Guidelines in Italian Public Universities for Assessing SDG 5 in the International Context
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12020045 - 25 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2047
Abstract
Gender equity is a topic of significant interest for universities, who are called upon to plan strategies and measures to increase gender equality in line with international policies. With a qualitative methodology based on manual content analysis, the paper aims to understand whether [...] Read more.
Gender equity is a topic of significant interest for universities, who are called upon to plan strategies and measures to increase gender equality in line with international policies. With a qualitative methodology based on manual content analysis, the paper aims to understand whether and how this report could positively assess a university’s actions for reaching SDG 5. This study’s results show that the CRUI guidelines can be used by universities to disclose gender policies that may be of interest to stakeholders, and can also be synthesized in THE ranking, increasing university visibility. The present study could be helpful for universities, regulatory bodies, policy makers, and agency rankings to help them identify the most relevant gender items on which to focus their attention. Full article
Article
Causes and Effects of Processes’ Complexity in Public Institutions: Some Experiences from Italian Universities
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12010037 - 01 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
This paper addresses the issue of complexity in the administrative processes in public institutions; in particular, accounting routines and processes are examined. Back-office activities, although having a merely supporting role in the delivery of public services, are often quite complex and use a [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the issue of complexity in the administrative processes in public institutions; in particular, accounting routines and processes are examined. Back-office activities, although having a merely supporting role in the delivery of public services, are often quite complex and use a significant amount of public institutions’ resources. However, the literature reveals a scarce use of accounting data by politicians and citizens. While the relation between complexity and costs has been the subject of major research in the business world, this issue is still unexplored with regard to the administrative processes of public institutions. This paper is based on an in-depth analysis of two cases in the higher education sector. Full article
Article
University Social Responsibility: Challenging Systemic Racism in the Aftermath of George Floyd’s Murder
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12010036 - 21 Feb 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2830
Abstract
In this paper, we examine university discretionary interpretation of the 2020 social upheaval that emanated from George Floyd’s murder as an element of university social responsibility (USR) policymaking. The paper addresses two research questions: (a) What are university presidents’ implicit and explicit social [...] Read more.
In this paper, we examine university discretionary interpretation of the 2020 social upheaval that emanated from George Floyd’s murder as an element of university social responsibility (USR) policymaking. The paper addresses two research questions: (a) What are university presidents’ implicit and explicit social justice responses to George Floyd’s death and the idealistic protests of 2020? (b) To what degree are principles of social justice embedded in universities’ intellectual roots and social responsibility? Using a sample of university presidents’ public statements in response to George Floyd’s death and the idealistic protests of 2020, we analyze the response and responsibilities of universities in the struggle for a just society. We cross-check mission statements and strategic plans to corroborate universities’ public statements with their institutional philosophies, mission, and action plans relating to discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities and systemic racism. We use critical discourse analysis and the Voyant Tool to perform a textual analysis of 62 university presidents’ letters and mission statements. They all denounced the dehumanization and inequitable treatment of Black people. An important implication of our work is the sharp difference in the depth and forthrightness of responses by university presidents across university types. Some presidential letters are forthright in their denouncement of the murder of George Floyd and systemic racism, while others were, at best, vague in their approach. Presidential letters disclose their institutions’ priorities, organizational identities, and social responsibility convictions. Overall, mission statements and strategic plans included addressing systemic racism and inequality. While there is no ordered symmetry between presidential narratives and institutional action, we anticipate social responsibility as a core institutional value. We argue for social justice anti-racist platforms as critical dimensions of USR. We call for university milieus that promote a fair and just society among all stakeholders. Full article
Article
The Antecedents of Transparency of Italian Public Entities: An Empirical Analysis in Universities and Public Research Institutes
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12010029 - 14 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1874
Abstract
Transparency within universities and public research institutes is an element of significant relevance in the Italian context. Over the years, the need for greater transparency has prompted the legislator to regulate transparency obligations in order to ensure a minimum level of information disclosure. [...] Read more.
Transparency within universities and public research institutes is an element of significant relevance in the Italian context. Over the years, the need for greater transparency has prompted the legislator to regulate transparency obligations in order to ensure a minimum level of information disclosure. Despite the normative obligation, Italian universities and public research institutes provide different levels of information. This circumstance requires an empirical analysis aimed at understanding the different levels of transparency of Italian universities and public research institutes, and the factors that can influence the amount of information disclosed. The results show a positive impact of the size and the internationalization on the level of the transparency of these institutions. Full article
Article
CSR Reporting Practices: The Case of University of Bari
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12010022 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2038
Abstract
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relevant topic for researchers and practitioners, widely explored with reference to companies. However, there are still few studies that address how higher education institutions integrate CSR practices into their strategy. This represents an important limitation since the [...] Read more.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relevant topic for researchers and practitioners, widely explored with reference to companies. However, there are still few studies that address how higher education institutions integrate CSR practices into their strategy. This represents an important limitation since the university, through academic training and research activity, is the main promoter of CSR practices among different categories of stakeholders. Given the many benefits associated with the adoption of CSR, this study aims to explore the topic of CSR in universities, as they are institutions that act in the public interest and represent the ideal context for spreading the culture of preserving environmental and social, as well as economic, sustainability. The main purpose of this study is to explore, through the methodology of case studies, the type and effectiveness of the tools used by universities, specifically the University of Bari, to disseminate and integrate CSR into corporate strategy. Furthermore, this study aims to investigate how the university ensures the involvement of stakeholders, represented in particular by professors, administrators and students (stakeholder approach), in CSR initiatives. The analysis revealed the centrality of the investigated university in promoting CSR issues and sustainable territorial development. Finally, the study provides empirical evidence of the actions and methods of integrating CSR practices into corporate strategy and the ways in which stakeholders are involved. Full article
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Article
Determinant Factors of SDG Disclosure in the University Context
Adm. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci12010021 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2527
Abstract
Universities are expected to have a leading role in the advancement, promotion, and achievement of the 2030 UN Agenda, embedding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across their four dimensions (teaching, research, campus operations and governance, and community outreach) and in their reporting [...] Read more.
Universities are expected to have a leading role in the advancement, promotion, and achievement of the 2030 UN Agenda, embedding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across their four dimensions (teaching, research, campus operations and governance, and community outreach) and in their reporting cycles from a whole-institution perspective. In this landscape, academics and practitioners have started to assess universities’ commitment toward the global goals. Nonetheless, research on university SDG disclosure is still in its infancy, being limited to descriptive studies, single case studies, or national contexts. This paper aims to analyse SDG disclosure in the university context from a cross-country perspective. Specifically, it investigates the internal and external factors affecting the universities’ disclosure choices through an OLS regression technique based on multiple and complementary theoretical frameworks (i.e., legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory, and institutional theory). Starting from the Times Higher Education (THE) world university ranking, the sample comprises 844 universities in 81 countries observed over the course of 2021. The empirical findings show a significant and positive impact of the institutional macro-context, university size, age, and diversity on SDG disclosure. The results aim to contribute to the debate by the academic community and policy makers on the universities’ commitment to fostering the awareness, collaboration, measurement, and achievement of SDGs. Full article
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Article
Social Media for Engaging and Educating: From Universities’ Sustainability Reporting to Dialogic Communication
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040151 - 09 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2051
Abstract
Traditionally, universities are committed to the missions of conducting research and teaching. Recently, they were also called to contribute to supporting sustainable development in society. Many universities worldwide have experienced sustainability and social reporting practices to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. However, while [...] Read more.
Traditionally, universities are committed to the missions of conducting research and teaching. Recently, they were also called to contribute to supporting sustainable development in society. Many universities worldwide have experienced sustainability and social reporting practices to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. However, while sustainability reporting represents the primary means to communicate this commitment externally, research has barely unveiled how universities use other communication technologies, such as social media. This study investigates how universities use social media to engage their stakeholders in their sustainability initiatives and how this is associated with their sustainability reporting practices. We examine some best practices from Italian public universities, which, in addition to their experience in sustainability reporting, use social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to create a dialogue with their stakeholders about sustainability. We find that sustainability reporting is often the seed to instil innovative means for stakeholder engagement through social media. The universities with long-standing and continuous sustainability reporting experience use social media to enhance their communication, engage stakeholders and thereby improve their sustainability reporting practices. More worthily, we find that social media is also used as an educational tool to make people aware and foster a culture of sustainability in society. Full article
Article
Corporate Social Responsibility Engagement through Social Media. Evidence from the University of Salerno
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040147 - 04 Dec 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2025
Abstract
Over the last few decades, stakeholders’ growing attention towards social and environmental issues has challenged universities’ traditional accountability boundaries, imposing the adoption of innovative reporting tools that facilitate stakeholders’ engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices and performances. Against this backdrop, online communication [...] Read more.
Over the last few decades, stakeholders’ growing attention towards social and environmental issues has challenged universities’ traditional accountability boundaries, imposing the adoption of innovative reporting tools that facilitate stakeholders’ engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices and performances. Against this backdrop, online communication tools, such as websites and social media platforms, have gained momentum as a pivotal means to increase dialogue with the myriad of stakeholders, especially during the pandemic period, as it has dramatically reduced physical interactions. Based on these premises, this study aims to dive deep into the use of social media to communicate CSR strategies in the university context by exploring the case of the University of Salerno. To this end, all posts published by the University of Salerno’s official Twitter account from 2015 to 2021 have been extracted and analyzed. Accordingly, the degree of interactions with stakeholders and the communication direction and balance level have been examined based on Carroll’s pyramid. Findings show a higher level of engagement for CSR posts and, in particular, for the philanthropic dimension. Results also highlight that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Salerno has empowered CSR disclosure through Twitter. The methodology adopted could be replicated for other universities to understand better how public universities use social media to involve a broader range of stakeholders in their CSR practices. Full article
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Article
CSR Education in Economia Aziendale Curricula: An Overview
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040137 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1914
Abstract
In the last few years, policymakers have underlined the need for new soft and hard skills about corporate social responsibility (CSR). The main debate about CSR education has been driven by the 2030 Agenda, which explicitly recognized Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as having [...] Read more.
In the last few years, policymakers have underlined the need for new soft and hard skills about corporate social responsibility (CSR). The main debate about CSR education has been driven by the 2030 Agenda, which explicitly recognized Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as having a pivotal role. In particular, many academics started to develop qualitative and quantitative studies to evaluate the integration of CSR contents in business schools’ curricula. The paper aims to contribute to the existing debate through the analysis of the contribution provided by Italian HEIs to CSR Education. In particular, we adopted qualitative methods to evaluate the specific contribution provided by Economia Aziendale scholars. Full article
Article
Toward a Sustainable University: Babes-Bolyai University Goes Green
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040133 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2079
Abstract
The present research aims to investigate the roadmap followed by a Romanian University implementing sustainability practices and thus contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Informed by the stakeholder theory lens, the study contributes to the literature by exposing, from a longitudinal [...] Read more.
The present research aims to investigate the roadmap followed by a Romanian University implementing sustainability practices and thus contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Informed by the stakeholder theory lens, the study contributes to the literature by exposing, from a longitudinal perspective, the case of the evolving commitment toward a more sustainable future by Babes-Bolyai University. In order to provide empirical results relevant to the literature, the investigation followed a combination of qualitative methodologies oriented to demonstrate how the institution approaches the recently developed sustainable development goals. Informed by the stakeholder theory, the research represents one of the first studies focusing on university SDG disclosure. Despite the modest recognition of Romanian HEIs in international rankings, the present study outlines a convinced commitment and a clear pathway, of BBU, toward a more sustainable future. Our research’s originality relies on the selected institution and the university’s policies with the SDGs. The study provides fresh knowledge in the growing debate of SDGs and HEIs and outlines how such institutions can contribute toward sustainable development goals through means already available. Full article
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Article
University Social Responsibility: The Case of Italy
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040124 - 29 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1250
Abstract
Increasing attention is now being paid to the concept of sustainability as a crucial element of our life at all levels. The awareness that attention must be paid not only to the present, but also and above all to the future of the [...] Read more.
Increasing attention is now being paid to the concept of sustainability as a crucial element of our life at all levels. The awareness that attention must be paid not only to the present, but also and above all to the future of the society in which we live has increased attention to social and environmental issues, such as climate change and the digital revolution. This transformation has also impacted the public sector: in particular, the scientific attention in the university sector has led to the birth of the concept of University Social Responsibility (USR), which suggests that universities sustainably re-transform their work. However, this issue has so far only been the subject of a few studies. The purpose of this article is to promote greater awareness on the part of universities of the importance of addressing sustainability issues. The results of the analysis, obtained thanks to the use of a questionnaire and interviews, depict the state of the art in the adoption of social reporting practices by Italian universities and identify the main reasons and barriers to the adoption of these practices. Full article
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Article
Corporate Social Responsibility through SDGs: Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study in Italian Universities
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11040117 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1762
Abstract
Background: In the broad scientific debate on the integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the strategic planning of universities and on the use of monitoring the results of the strategy of the indicators relating to the pursuit of sustainable development goals (SDGs), [...] Read more.
Background: In the broad scientific debate on the integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the strategic planning of universities and on the use of monitoring the results of the strategy of the indicators relating to the pursuit of sustainable development goals (SDGs), there is a lack of studies demonstrating the effective degree of institutionalization of CSR in universities. Methods: This analysis constitutes a pilot study relating to the Italian university context. The study was carried out through an analysis on the contents of the three-year strategic performance plans (2020–2022) drawn up by individual universities and compulsorily published on the national portal of the Public Function Department, as required by article 10, paragraph 1, letter (a) of Legislative Decree 150/2009. A matrix was made with the information extracted by the documents and relative to the presence of the SDGs in the strategic performance plan. Consequently, using a Likert scale, the different degrees of institutionalization of CSR in the strategic plan of the universities were coded. Results: The results of the pilot study highlighted that the strategic planning of Italian universities’ CSR practices and the challenges of sustainable development are hardly ever systematically addressed. Therefore, there is a low degree of institutionalization of CSR in the Italian university system, even though the literature shows a high cultural and scientific commitment to establish university and post-graduate study courses with corporate social responsibility and sustainable development content and an increasing trend in the use of the accountability tools such as the social report or the sustainability report. Conclusions: It is necessary to share the results of scientific research on CSR and SDGs with the government and governance bodies of universities in order to harmonize the CSR and sustainability culture of these bodies with that of academics. Full article
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Article
The Contribution of Higher Education Institutions to the SDGs—An Evaluation of Sustainability Reporting Practices
Adm. Sci. 2021, 11(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11030097 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3127
Abstract
The introduction of Agenda 2030 has impacted the public and private sectors. Agenda 2030 is a document that aims to promote collaboration and partnership between countries and the population for the achievement of 17 SDGs, which cover all the three dimensions of sustainability: [...] Read more.
The introduction of Agenda 2030 has impacted the public and private sectors. Agenda 2030 is a document that aims to promote collaboration and partnership between countries and the population for the achievement of 17 SDGs, which cover all the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. Within the public organizations, higher education institutions (HEIs) have shown certain attention on the topic. In particular, for many HEIs, the publication of sustainability reports has represented an instrument to disclose and publicize their commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To shed light on the highly fragmented panorama of the disclosure of SDGs in the context of HEIs, the present study employed a content analysis on publicly available sustainability reports published only by the HEIs that adopted the GRI Standards as reporting guidelines. The results show the centrality of the social and environmental issues within the disclosed information. Moreover, the provision of a thematic analysis on the SDGs disclosure sections revealed the interest of the sampled HEIs in increasing the level of involvement of their stakeholders. Full article
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