Date of Conferral







Terry Halfhill


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) investment strategies impact the business outcomes of firms of all sizes regardless of investment motives. But for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), the consequences of CSR investment are more immediate when compared to larger firms due to the condensed lag time between decisions and their respective outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the management decisions of social or environmental CSR investments for U.S.-based service and manufacturing SMEs are effective as represented by financial performance in their respective business sectors. The theoretical framework of this study was stakeholder and social capital theories. Five research questions were used as the basis for exploring the relationship between the financial performance of service SMEs and the financial performance of manufacturing SMEs when both invested in social and environmental CSR. From a sample of 50 U.S.-based SME firms, the perceptions of owner/managers on the extent of social CSR, environmental CSR, and financial performance were assessed via survey questionnaire and analyzed employing ANCOVA, t statistic, and multiple regression analyses. The results showed significantly higher financial performance for service SMEs than for manufacturing SMEs when both were engaged in workplace and customer CSR activities. Further, combined social and environmental CSR activities suggested a negative but insignificant effect on financial performance, business sector notwithstanding. The findings indicate that U.S. SMEs should consider monitoring their financial performance when making CSR investments, and when optimizing programs that are beneficial to both themselves and to society at large.