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Explaining the relationship between socially responsible products and the operations of the firm: The case of equine assisted therapy

  • Autori: Bruccoleri, M.; Mazzola, E.; Sferlazzo, G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Although there is a growing interest in social responsibility in research as well as in practice, the majority of studies on corporate social responsibility do not explicitly investigate operations management issues when adopting socially responsible practices under the “people” pillar of sustainability. This paper, dealing with the theme of social responsibility in operations management, aims at clarifying the complex relationship between socially responsible product/service and the operations of the company. The empirical context of the study is the sport industry, where the attention to social issues is well established. We used a mixed theoretical-empirical approach to develop a conceptual model, which results in two hypotheses grounded on the literature and three exploratory interviews from three Italian equestrian centres. We test the hypotheses by collecting data from a survey of 156 Italian equestrian centres and applying structural equation modelling (SEM). Our findings show that differentiating the product portfolio by introducing socially responsible products/services influences the operations of the company at different levels. Moreover, although companies consider socially responsible products/services differentiation strategies as something different from other socially responsible practices they seem to activate a social-orientation virtuous cycle: offering a socially responsible product/service is associated with the implementation of other socially responsible practices.