Arena (2007)

Arena, Christine. The High Purpose Company. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.

This book reports on a study by the author and a team of 10 MBA students at McGill University (David M. Lank served as faculty supervisor). Citing Paul Hawken's critiques of the social investment industry as inspiration, the study seeks to identify companies that "approach the practice of corporate responsibility as a fully-integrated business strategy," as opposed to those that "falsely approach corporate responsibility as a form of marketing, public relations, or even philanthropy..."

The study identifies a group of 75 companies that "actively promoted their commitment to ethics and responsibility through advertisements, press releases...and other corporate-sponsored communications. (These are primarily U.S. firms, although some Canadian and UK companies are included as well). The social records of the companies in this group were then critically evaluated to assess whether corporate behavior was consistent with espoused values - the author calls this "passing the litmus test". Of the 75 firms, 16 were identified as "passing the litmus test," 45 were viewed as "poised to pass the litmus test," and 14 "failed the litmus test."

Although it is non-quantitative, this study is potentially useful to researchers because it provides an alternative view of social responsibility and offers a list of 16 companies judged to be exemplary that can be incorporated into future quantitative work.