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Cruz, Marcelo de la ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2136-217X; Spanjol, Jelena ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2769-8176 and Doppstadt, Theresa (20. March 2024): Strategic Social Value Orientation and Sustainability Performance: A commensuration perspective. In: Organization Studies [Forthcoming]

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Firms increasingly express the strategic importance of creating social value in addition to financial and market value in their communications to investors. Yet, it is unclear what a strategic orientation towards social value creation entails and whether it differentiates firms in terms of their sustainability performance. This article provides a conceptualization of strategic social value orientation (SSVO) consisting of three behavioral components (leading business with purpose, support of stakeholders, focus on consequences) and one shared belief (mutuality). Utilizing a novel linguistic, content-analytic measure of strategic social value orientation, we analyse annual letters to shareholders and sustainability ratings across 1580 firm-year observations, indicating that firms with a stronger strategic social value orientation show greater sustainability performance. The article explores commensurability of strategic attention towards social value creation, suggesting that future research prioritize more fine-grained assessments of social value, sustainability strategies and performance. Our study makes two main contributions. First, we advance theory at the intersection of sustainability and strategic orientation literatures by introducing a new concept of a firm’s strategic orientation toward social value creation (i.e. SSVO). Second, we develop and validate an empirical measure at the firm level for analysing a firm’s strategic social value orientation, making an important contribution to the commensuration of sustainability. Our findings offer guidance to scholars and implications for practitioners.

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