Application Of Corporate Social Responsibility Csr Frameworks Is Nothing New Accounting Essay


This paper presents an investigation into the frameworks used to conceptualise, monitor and compare corporate social responsibility (CSR). It presents a new framework that organises and communicates information detailing business performance on ten environmental policy initiatives (expressed by the acronym 'GREENER') using a CSR scale (expressed by the acronym 'VENUE'). This GREENER VENUE framework fills a gap in the CSR literature by accentuating discretionary practices and by exhibiting conceptual and psychometric properties that enable its application to broad and diverse contexts. Although the framework is grounded in theory it has the advantage of being extremely practical, simple to implement, easily understandable and highly relatable. Application of the GREENER VENUE framework to data collected via a self-administered Internet questionnaire of the UK conference sector reveals that a majority of conference venues can be classified as 'Eager'.

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility; UK conference sector; Environmental sustainability; Conceptual framework

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Julie Whitfield, Senior Lecturer in Conference and Events Management, School of Services Management, Dorset House, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset, BH12 5BB, United Kingdom. Tel: 0044 1202 965158; Fax: 0044 1202 515707; Email:

Leonardo A.N. Dioko, Institute For Tourism Studies, Inspiration Building, Colina de Mong-ha, Macau S.A.R. Tel: 00853 8598 3040; Fax: 00853 8519 058; Email:

Don J. Webber, Department of Economics, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Tel: 0064 921 9999; E-mail:

1. Introduction

Application of corporate social responsibility (CSR) frameworks is nothing new. Although history suggests that markets and nation states have been and will continue to be reformed and rebuilt through an increasingly complex set of social and institutional initiatives (including government legislation), academic debates regarding the concepts and theories of CSR is a product of the 20th century. Widely acknowledged as the literary birth of CSR, Bowen's (1953) seminal contribution was grounded on the argument that businesses are not only responsible for the creation of goods and services designed specifically for trade and profit motives but also for the production of social goods (Wood, 2010). Conceptualisation, definition and redefinition of CSR continued unabated throughout subsequent decades.

A shift in thinking was evident in the 1980s: efforts to redefine and reconceptualise CSR gave way to greater emphasis on researching this domain (Carroll and Shabana, 2010; Frederick, 2008). This decade also saw an intense media-coverage of unrelated, globally significant, environmental disasters which stimulated the conscience of a generation. The Union Carbide gas leak at Bhopal in 1984, the Russian nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 and the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spillage in 1989 all contributed to place corporate activity at the forefront of societal concerns. Concepts, principles and practices were transferred from literary page to society's conscience which stimulated much greater scrutiny of corporate environmental performance: financial institutions faced concerns over ethical investments (Harvey, 1995), food retailers were questioned over immoral sourcing (Maloni and Brown, 2006) and corporate activities (Sperling, 2010), and fuel suppliers' explorations were meticulously inspected (Amaeshi and Amao, 2009), though it appears that this was not enough to stop BPs Deepwater Horizon's rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The tourism sector has not escaped intense CSR scrutiny. The pervasive nature of CSR has evolved from its initial focus on mass vacationing to an ever-widening range of tourism sub-domains. It is being increasingly recognised that conference tourism has a significant and negative impact on the wider environment (Mair and Jago, 2010) typified by pollution and externalities associated with the effects of cleaning products linked with overnight accommodation, the production of personalised paper-based materials, hauled food and beverage ingredients, electronic operation of conference facilities and delegate transportation. Conventional conferences are a very resource-demanding process with considerable environmental impacts (Hischier and Hilty, 2002).

The conference venues sub-sector is not excluded from CSR criticism. Increasing recognition of the environmental impacts of conference venues coincided with demands to adopt CSR principles (Mohindra, 2008) and bring corporate behaviour up to a level where it is congruent with prevailing social norms, values and expectations of performance (Sethi, 1975). This generates the need for the establishment of a clearly-defined framework to guide individual conference venue's CSR performance; venues who elevate to and sustain a longer-term corporate behaviour standard that is in line with prevailing social norms, values and expectations will reap the rewards of repeat visitation (Nicolau, 2010), repeat choice and patronage by event organizers and site selection planners.

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In order to make visitation decisions based on corporate environmental performance, conference delegates require reliable and easily understandable information of environmental performance. There has been a rapid growth in the demand for a conceptual framework that permits comparisons of CSR across conference venues (Marquez and Fombrun, 2005); this paper fills that gap in the literature. It presents a theoretical development of comparative frameworks that permits comparisons across conference venues and thereby informs delegates, event organizers or planners' decision-making processes. This effective framework offers businesses a means by which they can score their own venues' environmental performance. A distinct advantage of the proposed framework is that it may also be utilised by other conference venue stakeholders, the wider tourism domain, and non-tourism domains.

This paper has the following structure: after providing a background and motivation for the study in Section 2, Section 3 proceeds to review different frameworks that have hitherto been employed to assess CSR but have overly-specific focus on certain aspects of CSR. Having highlighted and justified the gap in the literature which needs to be filled, we propose a simple framework for CSR performance assessment in Section 4. The application of a framework can illustrate its strength, so Section 5 overviews the data collection methods employed to apply and test this framework and Section 6 presents the results. Discussion of the ease and validity of this framework for assessing CSR performance is contained in Section 7 along with conclusions.

2. Background

Although there is increasing demand for CSR ratings (Chen and Delmas, 2010; Jackson and Apostolakou, 2010; Tyteca, 1996) the multiple metrics required for this task make measurement and assessment of CSR daunting. A broad range of economic, social and environmental issues must be explicitly considered when constructing an effective CSR rating.

Environmental performance indicators (EPIs) have been developed in response to the need for CSR measurement. EPIs are the quantification of interactions between the environment and the business which provides information on environmental impacts, legislative compliance, stakeholder interactions and business processes (Neely et al., 1995; Ilinitch et al., 1998; Veleva and Ellenbecker, 2000; Chinander, 2001) and can take the form of environmental management or environmental condition indicators (Jasch, 2000). The former examines the actions undertaken (such as counting the number of environmental audits, the proportion of employees undertaking environmental training, the number of environmental incidents, etc.) to minimise the business's negative environmental impact while the latter includes the business's impact on the environment (such as air or water quality). Regardless of whether they are management or condition environmental indicators, EPIs should be comparable, target-orientated, balanced, offer continuity, possess frequency and be comprehensible (Jasch, 2000).

Comparisons can be made between businesses regarding their environmental performances over time using EPIs. Moreover, they can be used to set internal goals, highlight potential areas where optimisation may occur and be used as an internal or external communications tool (Thoresen, 1999). EPIs form a part of an Environmental Performance Evaluation (EPE), which is an internal process and management tool designed to provide management with reliable and verifiable information (International Standard Business, 1998, online). It is essential that EPIs and EPEs are organised into a framework which permits clear observation on the achievement (or otherwise) of key environmental objectives (Ramos et al., 2007).

3. Framework conceptualisation

Bowen's (1953) work was forward thinking, but he did not propose a framework in which to construct his theory further and it was not until the 1970s that appropriate environmental assessment frameworks began to appear (Wood, 2010). Developments of his theory have been wide and varied but can, nevertheless, be classified into five distinct frameworks: i) conceptual, ii) process, iii) financial, iv) aggregate and v) reputation.

Conceptual frameworks

Conceptual frameworks were the first to be constructed in the 1970s. Conceptual frameworks systematically organise concepts in order to bring focus through the use of 'word models' that often form the conceptual origin for subsequent theories (Mosby, 2008). Sethi (1975) and Carroll (1979) are two seminal examples of conceptual frameworks and although they have been extensively critiqued (Wartick and Cochran, 1985; Wood, 1991; Carroll and Shabana, 2010; Wood 2010) they remain cornerstones of the conceptual framework literature within the CSR domain. 'Word models' permit comparisons over time and across industries, and can use social obligation, social responsibility and social responsiveness classifications (Senthi, 1975). This typology of corporate responses served as a conceptual framework for categorizing the mode of corporate action without regard to their intentions or outcomes. However, although an effective evaluation metric of corporate performance must have an element of cultural and temporal specificity, where at the extreme the same activity could be considered socially responsible in one circumstance and socially irresponsible in another (Sethi, 1979), there should always be stability in the categorisation of corporate activities.

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Carroll (1979) augmented Sethi's framework into a three dimensional model. The first dimension represents the areas of obligation that businesses have to society and encompass economic, legal, ethical and discretionary issues. [1] The second dimension covers issues of concern to society and may relate to the environment, consumerism, shareholders, discrimination, occupational safety and product safety. Carroll's most important contribution was his third dimension, often referred to as 'social responsiveness,' which includes strategies that businesses adopt in response to social issues. Responsiveness runs on two continuums from reactionary through to defence and from accommodation through to proactive.

These frameworks brought focus to the CSR debate and heavily contributed to the conceptual origin for subsequent theories. Although conceptualisations of CSR decreased in the 1980s, they did not cease. [2] Instead theoretical and empirical research concerning the development of measurement frameworks focused on devising a 'process' framework which businesses can follow in order to measure where they are in terms of the process of adopting CSR (Maon et al., 2009; Mair and Jago, 2010).

Process frameworks

As conceptualisations developed so too did businesses begin to question how the principles of CSR could be adopted; unfortunately few models assisted this process (Prakash, 2000). The process models in existence permitted businesses to apply and move between purely descriptive to wholly explanatory CSR frameworks (Pearce, 2008); even though some process frameworks were general, others were sector-specific (Mair and Jago, 2010).

In their generalist model, Mair and Jago (2010) attempted to model the corporate greening process by incorporating both drivers for and barriers against the adoption of CSR along with the business context and the role of the media in terms of agenda setting. This framework details the day-to-day management activities (such as leadership, strategy, information, people and process) and ultimately places a business on the uptake continuum, between 'Not at all' and 'Very green'; see Figure 1. Mair and Jago favoured this generalist view of process adoption and argued that it leads to better understanding of the role of contextual factors and underlying dimensions. [3] 

{Insert Figure 1 about here}

Marshall et al. (2005) presented an industry-specific examination of the US wine industry and identified individual and institutional drivers for environmental change. Their individual drivers relate to Jago and Mair's (2010) internals drivers, while their institutional drivers align with Jago and Mair's external drivers. However, their model is not easily applied outside of the US wine industry as it lacked i) a clear process behind behavioural change from barrier to adoption and ii) generic drivers for behavioural change (such as image enhancement).

A further industry-specific four-part model was proposed by Lynes and Andrachuk (2008) where the components were i) systems of influence, ii) motivations, iii) catalysts and iv) level of commitment; see Figure 2. The application of the model to Scandinavian Airlines highlighted the importance of catalysts (such as cultural factors) behind the level of commitment to CSR. However, as with the model proposed by Marshall et al. (2005), Lynes and Andrachuk's (2008) model lacks information on barriers to adoption and thus unrealistically views the process without constraints on adoption.

{Insert Figure 2 about here}

Financial frameworks

Financial frameworks assess performance in terms of the rise in social investment funds (Chen and Delmas, 2010). [4] Although there has been a proliferation of businesses undertaking and publishing such CSR ratings, no international rating dominates (Marquez and Fombrum, 2005). The dominant North American ratings are published by Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini Research and Analytics (KLD) (Waddock, 2003) and these ratings examine eight attributes of social activities for approximately 3000 publically traded US companies (KLD, 2010; Turker, 2009). [5] This rating index, with values going back to 1991, is amongst the most influential and its power should not be underestimated. For instance, in 2006, KLD removed Coca-Cola Co. from its Broad Market Social Index on the basis of unease relating to the Coca-Cola's employment and environmental practices in developing countries; based on this delisting, TIAA-CREF (the largest US-based retirement fund) sold approximately US$50m worth of Coca-Cola Co. shares (Chatterji et al., 2009).

Financial frameworks have helped academics, managers and financial stakeholders to conceptualise, adopt and invest, but few frameworks have focused on the ability to compare businesses outside of investment purposes. Thus there is a need to develop theoretically-based measures that can be used to perform inter-temporal evaluations and provide stakeholders with meaningful financial comparisons (Xie and Hayase, 2007).

Aggregated frameworks

The aim of aggregated comparison frameworks is to generate a form of rating, usually numeric, that accurately reflects the level of commitment to CSR exhibited by a business. Challenges to the creation of such a rating are many and well-documented (see, for example, Carroll, 2009; Graves and Waddock, 1994; Wokutch and McKinney, 1991) with the primary concern grounded on the multi-dimensional nature of CSR. Rowley and Berman (2000) state that any one-dimensional rating can neither truly represent the full breadth of CSR nor be utilised in a comparative manner.

A favoured alternative is to use a linear aggregation of various aspects of CSR when measuring the entire or sub-sets of CSR. Two principle types of aggregated methodologies exist: equal-weightings and weighted. Typically the former treats each CSR dimension under consideration equally and this is based on the assumption of equal importance of dimensions. The weighted approach assigns a weight to each CSR dimension under scrutiny and is based on the degree of relative importance. For instance, Waddock and Graves (1997) identified employee relations (17%) as the principle concern to experts, jointly followed by product / liability (15%) and community (15%); by apportioning weight according to the level of perceived importance of each attribute an analyst can adjust the results to be in line with perceived reality.

However there are a number of strong concerns over the ability to select appropriate weightings to use in these rankings. In addition to concerns over whether the selection of the weighting can be justifiable given limited supporting evidence (Chen and Delmas, 2010) there appears to be no agreed, universal system of weighting or prioritising of CSR dimensions, and what is a concern for one stakeholder may not be a concern for another. Application of weightings can generate biased results (Delquie, 1997); sometimes this is understandable when, for example, the CSR concerns of today are better informed than they were previously. Nevertheless, for ease of comparison, different weightings of the same CSR dimension should not be employed by different ratings agencies and consensus should be reached on the relative importance of dimensions.

Noting the benefits and concerns expressed of single and aggregated multiple-dimension frameworks, as well as weighted and non-weighted aggregated frameworks, many attempts have been made to forward comparative frameworks. An effort was made by Bragdon and Marlin (1972) who utilised the Council of Economic Priorities pollution index; this was strongly criticised because of its one-dimensional focus on environmental performance while lacking completely any form of wider social CSR aspect (Kedia and Kuntz, 1981). An effort by Freedman and Jaggi (1982) focused on financial report analysis and, although it is more objective than Bragdon and Marlin's (1972) as it included a wider range of environmental and social dimensions, concerns were expressed over the trade off between quality and quantity with reports devoting a large proportion of text to non-specific statements rather than shorter statements of fact. [6] 

Reputation frameworks

Early frameworks were subjective in nature, utilised reputational indices and dominated by the employment of a selection criteria chosen by and based around the skill-set most familiar to those individuals undertaking the assessment (Abbot and Monsen, 1979). More rigorous reputational frameworks have been developed, such as that undertaken by the Fortune journal (Chakravarthy, 1986; Dobson, 1989). Reputational frameworks are comprised of four social and four financial dimensions and have found acceptance in the literature. However, application of factor analysis to the ratings identified that financial factors accounted for greater variance than social factors; hence such results are the focus of criticism as it suggests Fortune's rating favours financial commitments over social concerns (McGuire et al., 1988; Fryxell and Wang, 1994).

The first attempt to evaluate the multidimensional nature of CSR is considered to be the work of Aupperle et al. (1985) and based on Carroll's (1979) constructs of CSR. Aupperle et al. (1985) constructed a forced-choice instrument that measured CSR business orientation rather than outcomes (Ruf et al., 1998). Although it avoided the problems associated with reputational indices and an attempt had been made to measure the multiplicity of CSR, further refinements followed and subsequently came the advent of the Balanced Scorecard. [7] 


There is a plethora of frameworks to assess CSR. There is also considerable diversity in environmental indicator frameworks (Hodge, 1997; Ramos et al., 2004) that has created difficulties in undertaking comparisons across businesses, domains and nations (Ramos et al., 2007). Furthermore there appears to have been no obvious attempt to standardise EPIs within EPEs, with existing ratings and measures being somewhat arbitrary (Xie and Hayase, 2007). Moreover there are concerns over data sources and collection methods (Epstein, 1996; Bennet and James, 1999) that have blighted the ease of application of various frameworks and a lack of consensus on what, where and how to measure (Kolk and Mauser, 2002).

The acceptance and adoption of a singular dimension environmental policy should not be considered as a true indication of environmental commitment by a business. A better indication of the commitment to improving a business's environmental performance can be ascertained if the contents of the environmental policy are examined. Indeed, Elkington and Burke (1989) proposed a set of ten policy steps which may be adopted by a business in a bid to achieve environmental excellence. [8] Although there is no singular move towards identifying common dimensions of CSR in a formalised theoretical or systematic empirical way (Ilinitch et al., 1998), the use of a conceptual framework that draws on Carroll (1979), Sethi (1975) and the ten steps to excellence (Elkington and Burke, 1989) can allow the progression towards a useful and practical conceptual framework. The next section presents a construction of such a framework.

4. The GREENER VENUE conceptual framework

The conceptual framework developed below is multi-dimensional, non-weighted and focuses on Carroll's (1979) fourth area of obligation, that of discretionary obligation in relation to the environment, which is one of Carroll's six issues of concern to society.

The framework is built around two axes: environmental factors are calibrated on the x-axis and a business's responses to each factor are calibrated on the y-axis. In terms of the latter, this framework draws on Carroll's four-point scale (Carroll's third dimension) which measures responsiveness (reactive, defence, accommodating, proactive). However, a single category of 'reaction' may be too restrictive as it also encompasses 'denial'; this category of reaction is therefore separated into Unmotivated and Eternal denial for developmental purposes here, and therefore we employ a scale with five categories: Venerated, Eager, Nonchalant, Unmotivated, and Eternal denial (VENUE).

Sethi's (1975) framework possessed stable categories and fixed class definitions; indeed he stated that any conceptual framework should contain these attributes. Our GREENER VENUE framework satisfies Sethi's fundamental requirements of a conceptual framework, with the definitions shown in Table 1.

{Insert Table 1 about here}

Based around Elkington and Burke's (1989) ten steps to establish a continuum of action, this framework proposes ten EPIs which may be contained within a business environmental policy:

Greening the boardroom room

Register of applicable environmental legislation

Environmental disclosure by business - annual reports

Educating staff with regards environmental impact

Need to adopt: (i) environmental review

(ii) environmental statement

(iii) environmental management system and

(iv) environmental audit

Establish an environmental affairs department

Recycling, recovering and reusing

These EPIs are referred to by the acronym 'GREENER'. These EPIs satisfy Jasch's (2000) conditions that they should be comparable, target-orientated, balanced, offer continuity, possess frequency and be comprehensible. The five-point VENUE responsiveness scale will be used to gauge the GREENER discretionary indicators.

5. Application of the GREENER VENUE framework: Data collection

The empirical strength of an evaluative framework can only be ascertained through application, testing and replication. Constructive, empirically-based criticisms of CSR frameworks span sectors, industries, countries and time. Selection of an appropriate industry to test and illustrate the strength of this GREENER VENUE framework is based on the authors' knowledge of a particular sector, but the framework is equally valid for many other sectors and the true strength of the framework may be revealed through repeated application within the tourism field and across disciplines.

In line with many other sectors, conference venues are not excluded from CSR criticism. Recognition grows eternally of the environmental impacts of this tourism sector which incentivises the need to adopt CSR principles (Mohindra, 2008) and bring corporate behaviour up to a level where it is congruent with prevailing social norms, values and expectations of performance (Sethi, 1975). Useful, easily-understandable and readily available knowledge of conference venue's CSR performance will incentivise and differentiate venues and reward the better performers with repeat visitation (Nicolau, 2010), repeat choice and patronage by event organizers and site selection planners.

After a pilot survey, a self-administered Internet-based questionnaire (Google docs) was emailed to 1726 UK conference venues across the four venue classifications [9] in May 2010. During May and June 2010, several reminders were emailed, each with a link to the questionnaire; at the end of June a total of 191 responses were obtained giving a response rate of 11.1%. In addition to demographic/attribute-type questions (purpose-built, hotel, educational establishment or visitor attractions, conference space (m2), etc), the questionnaire requested the respondents to provide answers that referred to project's specific research questions, such as the year of implementation for each CSR policy, reasons for non-implementation, accreditation and environmental practices employed. The questionnaire sought information relevant to each business discretionary environmental indicator and employed a five-point Likert scale for ease of response. These responses matched the responsive criteria, an example is shown in Table 2.

{Insert Table 2 about here}

It should be emphasized that this paper uses discretionary CSR. The practices examined are therefore discretionary in nature and are undertaken voluntarily. The venue therefore decides whether or not to adopt them; this is a point that we refer to later.

An illustrative example

A score can be assigned to each response. Table 2 shows that for the most environmentally comprehensive response, which equates to 'Venerated,' a score of 3 is assigned, and this value decreases by 1 for each response until the most environmentally inert response, that equating to 'Eternal Denial', is assigned a value of -1. Once the completed questionnaire is submitted the bounds of the sum of the environmental values will be 30 and -10, which will correspond to businesses that are completely environmentally responsive and completely environmentally unresponsive, respectively; all values between these bounds are possible and plausible. An aggregate score across the environmental variables of 0 will equate to business that is 'Unmotivated', and scores of 10 and 20 equate to businesses that are 'Nonchalant' and 'Eager', on average, respectively. As a business improves its environmental performance so the responsive of the score will increase. Suffixes of '+' and '-' can be employed to illustrate whether the business is above or below category midpoints, as shown in Table 3. Figure 3 presents a hypothetical example.

{Insert Table 3 about here}

{Insert Figure 3 about here}

In Figure 3, the hypothetical venue has a 'Venerated' approach for environmental disclosure and an 'Eager' approach to greening the boardroom. The venue is seen as having a 'Nonchalant' approach to recycling, recovering and reusing and the four variables that comprise the need to adopt environmental reviews, statements, management systems and auditing. For educating staff, the venue is viewed as 'Unmotivated', while for establishing a register of applicable environmental legislation and establishing an environmental affairs department, the venue is deemed as in 'Eternal denial'. Overall, this venue would have a CSR score of 8 and be deemed as 'Nonchalant (-)'. Further analysis is possible subsequent to this stage in the framework. For instance the analysis can be extended to identify whether these relationship differ by other attributes, such as venue size, number of workers, location, etc.

6. Results

Application of the above GREENER VENUE framework to the conference venue data provides the following results. The respondents to the questionnaire were predominantly in conferences (94 responses or 49.2%), management (36 responses or 18.8%) and marketing (20 responses or 10.5%), which collectively account for 150 responses (78.5%). As can be seen through inspection of Table 4, the CSR scores for individual venues ranged between -8 and 30. Overall, the classification with the largest proportion of venues is 'Eager' with 68 venues (35.6%), whereby 'Organisations act in a proactive/progressive manner towards environmental issues.' The 'Nonchalant' category, where 'Acknowledging the corporate/environment interaction, the business changes internal attitudes / behaviour achieving the minimum to maintain a good image', is the second most popular and accounts for 58 venues (30.4%). Less than 7% of venues are approaching or are at 'Venerated', while over twice as many venues (31 responses or 16.2%) are viewed as having an 'Unmotivated' approach and 21 venues (11%) consider themselves to be in 'Eternal denial'. Over a quarter (52 venues or 27.2%) of responding venues still have neither implemented some form of discretionary environmental policies and practices nor will they change their behaviour towards implementing discretionary policies unless acted upon by an external force.

{Insert Table 4 about here}

To illustrate the strength of the GREENER VENUE framework, we further investigate the influence of venue size on the adoption of CSR. After controlling for different venue types, a two-way factorial analysis of variance was conducted where the dependent variable was the venue's composite score on the CSR measure. The two independent variables in the model were venue size and type.

Results of the factorial analysis of variance show that venue size exerts a significant effect on CSR (F(2, 179) = 3.979, p = 0.020). Supplementary post-hoc analysis using Tukey's multiple comparison procedure to discern mean differences between groups show that small-scale venues had a significantly lower mean CSR score (M = 8.39, s.d. = 10.520) compared to large-sized venues (M = 15.08, s.d. = 8.483). However, the mean CSR score for medium-sized venues (M = 11.58, s.d. = 9.643) was not significantly different from either small- or large-sized venues. Therefore there is tentative evidence to suggest that the likelihood of having a high CSR score increases systematically with venue size. Analysis also shows that venue type exerts a significant main effect on the CSR score (F(3, 179) = 5.689, p = 0.001). Post-hoc analysis of group means indicate that purpose-built venues have the highest mean CSR score (M = 17.00, s.d. = 7.762) and these differ significantly from hotels with conference facilities (M = 10.51, s.d. = 10.789) and visitor attractions with conference facilities (M = 6.25, s.d. = 9.375), which showed the lowest CSR scores. Notably, educational establishments with conference facilities achieved a CSR mean score (M = 11.57, s.d. = 8.682) that is neither statistically significantly below that of purpose-built venues nor significantly higher than hotels and visitor attractions with conference facilities. Finally, analysis reveals that the interaction term between venue size and type was statistically significant (F(6, 179) = 2.323, p = 0.035), suggesting that the effect of venue size on CSR is not unconditional of and is likely to be moderated by the type of venue. To facilitate interpretation of this interaction, Table 5 shows the mean CSR value for each group based on these two attributes; for ease of interpretation this is also presented in Figure 4.

{Insert Table 5 about here}

{Insert Figure 4 about here}

The pattern of group means for CSR indicates that as venue size increases then there is a corresponding increase in CSR score. This is true largely for all types of venues. The effect of venue size on CSR, however, is most pronounced for purpose-built venues, which show a statistically significant positive mean difference compared to other types of venues within the small-sized venue category. Thus it would appear that purpose-built venues exhibit higher CSR scores relative to other types of venues and their CSR scores increase as they size-up.

{Insert Figure 4 about here}

7. Discussion

Greater focus on the environmental impacts of businesses has stimulated many calls for them to adopt corporate social responsibility principles. This requires the establishment of a clearly-defined framework to guide individual conference venue's CSR performance. This paper has proposed a GREENER VENUE framework to fill this gap in the CSR literature by explicitly accentuating discretionary practices and by exhibiting conceptual and psychometric properties that enable its application to broad and diverse contexts. Although the framework is grounded in theory it has the advantage of being practical, simple to implement, easily understandable and highly relatable.

The paper makes an important differentiation between discretionary and mandatory CSR. The overarching research project, from which this paper's findings are drawn, has a working assumption that conference venues are compliant with applicable legislation in the long-run; if this is not the case then they will be forced to cease trading. Thus the practices examined in this study are discretionary in nature and are undertaken voluntarily. Indeed, Stainer and Stainer (1993) state that the lowest denominator of acceptable behavior by businesses is legal compliance, therefore discretionary behavior takes the business above this lowest denominator.

Application of the GREENER VENUE framework to businesses in the conference venue sector reveals that venue size and type exert independent but significant effects toward enhancing CSR. The larger the venue, the greater the likelihood that CSR scores will be higher; sizing-up does seem to do good for a UK conference sector company. One must be cautious, however, because the data also suggests that venue size seems to enhance CSR scores more for some type of venues than for others. Why this is so remains to be investigated in future studies.

As the application of the framework to conference venues shows, it not only provides an evaluative aid of corporate social responsibility, but it also highlights other factors (such as type and size) that are synonymous with higher CSR scores. Thus the framework is simultaneously descriptive, evaluative and analytically useful as a method in assessing factors that are influential in improving CSR. [10] The results of this study reveal that larger venues are associated with a higher discretionary CSR scores. This result questions the traditional antagonism toward larger-size organizations; it may be that bigger may actually be greener in so far as discretionary CSR is concerned.

Finally this study offers four important insights. First, it's important to have a comprehensive, integrative, and accurate measurement framework for discretionary CSR, along the lines advocated by Sethi (1975) and Carroll (1979) for general measures of CSR.

Second, a descriptive framework for evaluating and assessing organizational CSR is insufficient: it needs to be considered in relation to key factors and variables that ultimately influence an organization's CSR. In other words, any CSR framework should not just be prescriptive it should also be instructive and serve to identify the key factors driving activities and practices favorable to CSR. This study's testing of the GREENER VENUE framework, by relating it to the size and type of conference venue, illustrates the practicality of the diagnostic framework.

Third, any framework should be diagnostically effective from an internal and external comparative perspective. Generalizability, subsequent adoption and conceptual and temporal stabilities of any framework are key if external comparisons across different organizations (or across different elements of one organization) are to be exercised.

Fourth, the GREENER VENUE framework contributes to two important areas hitherto overlooked in the CSR literature: first it develops a framework with emphasis toward discretionary practices and illustrates the strength of this method through application to the sizeable and rapidly growing UK conference industry. Second the framework exhibits conceptual and psychometric properties that enable its application to broad and diverse contexts. It is theoretically grounded but at the same time practical, easy to implement, easily understandable and highly relatable to organizational managers, frontline employees and many other key stakeholders of any industry. It has the potential for influencing not only the operational, managerial and planning decisions by organizations but also individual consumer decision-making and choice.