Belu and Manescu (2009)
Belu, Constantin, and Cristiana Manescu. "Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Economic Performance." Working Paper, University of Gothenburg, June 2009.
This study develops a new index of socially responsible companies, then demonstrates a positive relationship between membership in the index and return on assets (ROA). The data includes 372 "non-financial large publicly traded companies listed on the main international stock exchanges" (45% European, 30% North American, and 15% Japanese), and covers the 2002-2006 time period. Social ratings are sourced from Sustainable Asset Management (SAM).
Using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), "we proceed to construct CSR indices that account for the differences between the business models of companies, even within the same industry." The DEA approach uses linear weights, and favors areas where companies excel. The resulting weights are assigned in such a way that "each company will be placed in the most favorable position in relation to all other companies in the sample." Separation of strong CSR performers from weak ones is done at the industry level.
In regressions using ROA as the dependent variable, the study provides evidence for a "persistently positive link between strategic CSR and the economic performance of companies." CSR is highly significant in the pooled data (p<0.01) but not in each individual year. Size, leverage, and Price/Book ratio, among others, are included as control variables.
Link (published version): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00036846.2012.676734