Representing one research project within the European Competitiveness Report 2008, this research project has assessed the competitiveness effects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Within the project, it has been analyzed how different aspects of CSR impact on different aspects of competitiveness at the company and national level.

It has been found that CSR can contribute to competitiveness. This effect does not only hold for large scale enterprises, but also for SMEs and may, additionally to the firm level, also refer to competitiveness at the regional and national level. While CSR can contribute to competitiveness, however, it is also apparent that CSR does not generally and in any case set off economic benefits. The offset of innovation due to CSR may imply that clusters can be set up, where single enterprises can benefit from the advantages of pooling common resources and information sharing. Such clusters can generate a snowball effect and be important in regional and national economic development. Moreover, the creation and fostering of human capital due to CSR may augment economic vitality and improve the regional innovative capacity.

Against this background, this project has emphasized that the spreading of information regarding the possible positive competitiveness effects of CSR seems to be promising in stimulating competitiveness for single firms. CSR may also be valuable from a macro perspective, in contributing to competitiveness at the regional or national level, and in improving the environmental and social situation, i.e. reducing externalized costs or avoiding distributional conflicts that have evolved in response to market failures.


Europäische Kommission, DG Enterprise and Industry , Brüssel , BE

Project duration

01.01.2008 - 31.05.2008

Project members

Ulrich Oberndorfer (Coordinator)
Niels Anger