Corporate Ability and Corporate Social Responsibility: A Study on How They Influence the Competitive Advantage of an Apparel Company
Uddin, Sheikh Shahed
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The global apparel industry is becoming increasingly competitive due to the multifaceted nature of the business, diverse global consumer demand, sustainability in business operations, and consistent fashion manufacturing improvements. For an apparel company to achieve and sustain an edge over its competitors in such a highly competitive industry, a strong corporate image needs to be developed through strengthening the firm's skills, resources, and organizational capabilities. Little attention has been given to the scope of corporate ability (CA) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) features in developing the corporate image, and their potential to contribute to the competitive advantage of an apparel company. Adopting the theoretical framework from Gupta's (2002) study, this study investigates the importance of CA and CSR as two dimensions of corporate image and their influence on achieving apparel companies' competitive advantage. The quantitative research design incorporates four manipulated scenarios of US-based hypothetical apparel companies that comprises information regarding CA and CSR attributes. The findings from data analysis offer several interesting insights for academia and management. Firstly, CA and CSR individually appear as important sources of competitive advantage for apparel companies. Secondly, for interaction effects, the influence of either CA or CSR on an apparel company's competitive advantage appears higher when the other dimension exhibits positive attributes. Thirdly, if an apparel company has expertise in either of the dimensions (CA or CSR), it could achieve a competitive edge and could increase the potential to compensate for the poor expertise in the other dimension to some extent. A significant contribution of the study is the documentation of managerial capability and market position of apparel companies as indicators of competitive advantage that can source from CA and CSR. The study further proposes several prospective directions for future research based on the study findings.
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