Does CSR digitalization improve the sustainable competitive performance of SMEs? Evidence from an emerging economy

Maqsood Ahmad, Qiang Wu, Shakeel Ahmed

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to investigate the influence of the digitalization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the sustainable competitive performance (SCP) of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in an emerging economy and to examine the moderating effect of digital organizational culture on this relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Data collection was conducted through a survey completed by 311 owners and top managers operating in service, trading and manufacturing sector SMEs positioned within the twin cities of Pakistan. A convenient purposively sampling technique and snowball method were used for data collection, and structural equation modeling was used for data analysis. Findings: The results of this study suggest that CSR digitalization has a markedly positive influence on the SCP. Digital organizational culture appears to moderate these relationships. Practical implications: This study highlights the importance of considering CSR digitalization and fostering a digital organizational culture for SMEs to achieve SCP. The findings provide valuable insights for strategic decision-makers, including owners, CEOs and senior management of SMEs, to enhance their knowledge concerning how and why a digital organizational culture makes it easier to digitalize CSR activities, with the ultimate objective of ensuring SCP and SME growth. Overall, the findings of this study have practical implications for policymakers and managers in SMEs as they can promote the adoption of digital technologies in CSR initiatives and develop a digital organizational culture within the organization. This would contribute to enhancing the SCP of SMEs. Thus, this research is beneficial for business actors, policymakers and researchers seeking to enhance SMEs’ SCP. Social implications: This study provides valuable guidance to the senior management of SMEs regarding successfully adopting and integrating digital technologies into their CSR practices. This integration can lead to increased social and environmental benefits, which positively impact both business and society. Policymakers can use these findings to develop policies and initiatives to encourage CSR digitalization among SMEs. By providing support and incentives for digital transformation, policymakers can help SMEs adopt digital tools to improve their CSR performance, contributing to economic growth and sustainability. Originality/value: This study pioneers research on the links between CSR digitalization, digital organizational culture and the SCP of SMEs. This study contributes to the literature by defining CSR digitalization as an antecedent to the SCP of SMEs. In addition, this study underlines the significance of CSR digitalization for the achievement of SMEs’ SCP of SMEs with the moderating role of digital organizational culture. Overall, this study enriches the resource base view literature through empirical evidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • CSR digitalization
  • Digital organizational culture
  • Sustainable competitive performance of SMEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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