Corporate social responsibility: exploring the role of institutional antecedents, consumer reactions and entrepreneurial social opportunity selection
Smith, Dustin Bradley
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This dissertation investigates Corporate Social Responsibility through three essays. Essay one hypothesizes that in societies defined by greater public discretion, power and legitimacy is transferred to the public, enhancing its role as a legitimate firm stakeholder and augmenting its ability to pressure firms to conform to expectations of proper firm behavior. Additionally, this paper hypothesizes that information technology increases the capacity of the public to generate and change institutional norms, thereby leading to greater levels of firm social activity. The hypotheses are tested using a sample of firms across 47 nations. Results support the notion that public discretion, defined as participatory government, leads to an increase in firm-level CSR. Additionally, information technology is shown to positively moderate this effect. Essay two investigates how CSR can buffer firms against negative outcomes following an adverse event (e.g., a service failure) through two studies. Study 1 shows that consumers are less likely to spread negative word of mouth following a product failure when a firm engages in environmental CSR, but only when consumers are also high in trait environmental concern (TEC) and that this effect is mediated by consumer anger. Study 2 and demonstrates that perceived value overlap reduces consumer anger which in turn reduces NWOM within a service failure context. Perceived value overlap is greater among consumers when a firm distributes charitable donations to causes selected by the consumers. The findings show that, following service failures, a flexible CSR policy which donates to charities based on consumer choice may encourage feelings of value-alignment. Essay three concerns the evaluation and selection of opportunities by socially oriented entrepreneurs. Utilizing a conjoint methodology this paper finds three attributes of social opportunities which significantly influence potential opportunity ratings; namely, proximity, pervasiveness, and impact. A significant interaction between financial returns and pervasiveness but not proximity and impact suggests SEs are conscious of economic concerns and will select opportunities that satisfy both conditions but only in certain instances. The paper concludes that the relationship between social and financial value creation is more complex than previously thought.