IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Linking corporate social responsibility to firm default risk


  • Sun, Wenbin
  • Cui, Kexiu


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is receiving a growing attention from both academic researchers and business managers. Prior research suggests that CSR, by its ability of building strong corporate image and reputation, effectively improves a firm’s performance. However, few studies have explored the relationship between CSR and firm risk factors. In particular, although the ongoing financial crisis spurs scholars to seek new drivers that help a firm regain its well being, an important financial indicator of a firm, default risk, has been largely neglected. This research bridges this gap and empirically examines the relationship through which CSR helps firms reduce the risk of falling into default. In addition, this paper formulates the moderating effects between CSR and firm capability, environmental dynamism/complexity, and describes a more complete pattern of CSR’s function under different internal and external conditions. The results confirm that CSR has a strong effect on default risk reduction, and this relationship is stronger on firms in high dynamism environments than in low dynamism environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Sun, Wenbin & Cui, Kexiu, 2014. "Linking corporate social responsibility to firm default risk," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 275-287.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eurman:v:32:y:2014:i:2:p:275-287
    DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2013.04.003

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Viral Acharya & Jing-zhi Huang & Marti Subrahmanyam & Rangarajan Sundaram, 2006. "When does Strategic Debt-service Matter?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 29(2), pages 363-378, October.
    2. John Y. Campbell & Jens Hilscher & Jan Szilagyi, 2008. "In Search of Distress Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2899-2939, December.
    3. Cecchetti, Stephen G & Kashyap, Anil K & Wilcox, David W, 1997. "Interactions between the Seasonal and Business Cycles in Production and Inventories," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 884-892, December.
    4. Manuel Branco & Lúcia Rodrigues, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Resource-Based Perspectives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 69(2), pages 111-132, December.
    5. Becchetti, Leonardo & Sierra, Jaime, 2003. "Bankruptcy risk and productive efficiency in manufacturing firms," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 2099-2120, November.
    6. B. Espen Eckbo & David C. Smith, 1998. "The Conditional Performance of Insider Trades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(2), pages 467-498, April.
    7. Sudheer Chava & Amiyatosh Purnanandam, 2010. "Is Default Risk Negatively Related to Stock Returns?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(6), pages 2523-2559, June.
    8. Berger, Allen N & Udell, Gregory F, 1995. "Relationship Lending and Lines of Credit in Small Firm Finance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(3), pages 351-381, July.
    9. Norden, Lars & Weber, Martin, 2004. "Informational efficiency of credit default swap and stock markets: The impact of credit rating announcements," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2813-2843, November.
    10. repec:hal:journl:hal-00918528 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Gurdip Bakshi & Dilip Madan & Frank Xiaoling Zhang, 2006. "Investigating the Role of Systematic and Firm-Specific Factors in Default Risk: Lessons from Empirically Evaluating Credit Risk Models," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1955-1988, July.
    12. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-470, May.
    13. Allen, Linda & DeLong, Gayle & Saunders, Anthony, 2004. "Issues in the credit risk modeling of retail markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 727-752, April.
    14. Abagail McWilliams & Donald S. Siegel & Patrick M. Wright, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategic Implications," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-18, January.
    15. Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
    16. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1991. "The Theory of Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 297-355, March.
    17. Maria Vassalou & Yuhang Xing, 2004. "Default Risk in Equity Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(2), pages 831-868, April.
    18. Ilia D. Dichev, 1998. "Is the Risk of Bankruptcy a Systematic Risk?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1131-1147, June.
    19. Om Narasimhan & Surendra Rajiv & Shantanu Dutta, 2006. "Absorptive Capacity in High-Technology Markets: The Competitive Advantage of the Haves," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(5), pages 510-524, September.
    20. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
    21. Shantanu Dutta & Om Narasimhan & Surendra Rajiv, 1999. "Success in High-Technology Markets: Is Marketing Capability Critical?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(4), pages 547-568.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. George, Thomas J. & Hwang, Chuan-Yang, 2010. "A resolution of the distress risk and leverage puzzles in the cross section of stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 56-79, April.
    2. João Pedro Pereira & António Rua, 2018. "Asset Pricing with a Bank Risk Factor," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(5), pages 993-1032, August.
    3. Ferreira Filipe, Sara & Grammatikos, Theoharry & Michala, Dimitra, 2016. "Pricing default risk: The good, the bad, and the anomaly," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 190-213.
    4. Guo, Hui & Jiang, Xiaowen, 2021. "Aggregate Distress Risk and Equity Returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    5. Andreou, Christoforos K. & Lambertides, Neophytos & Panayides, Photis M., 2021. "Distress risk anomaly and misvaluation," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5).
    6. de Groot, Wilma & Huij, Joop, 2018. "Are the Fama-French factors really compensation for distress risk?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 50-69.
    7. Michael S. O'Doherty, 2012. "On the Conditional Risk and Performance of Financially Distressed Stocks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1502-1520, August.
    8. Assaf Eisdorfer & Amit Goyal & Alexei Zhdanov, 2018. "Distress Anomaly and Shareholder Risk: International Evidence," Financial Management, Financial Management Association International, vol. 47(3), pages 553-581, September.
    9. Anginer, Deniz & Yildizhan, Celim, 2009. "Is there a Distress Risk Anomaly? Pricing of Systematic Default Risk in the Cross Section of Equity Returns," MPRA Paper 53885, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Apr 2013.
    10. Howard Chan & Robert Faff & Paul Kofman, 2011. "Is default risk priced in Australian equity? Exploring the role of the business cycle," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 36(2), pages 217-246, August.
    11. Conrad, Jennifer & Kapadia, Nishad & Xing, Yuhang, 2014. "Death and jackpot: Why do individual investors hold overpriced stocks?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 455-475.
    12. Cai, Jie & Zhang, Zhe, 2011. "Leverage change, debt overhang, and stock prices," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 391-402, June.
    13. Yinxia G. Nielsen , Caren, 2013. "Is Default Risk Priced in Equity Returns?," Knut Wicksell Working Paper Series 2013/2, Lund University, Knut Wicksell Centre for Financial Studies.
    14. Li, Tangrong & Lin, Hui, 2021. "Credit risk and equity returns in China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 588-613.
    15. Kevin Aretz & Chris Florackis & Alexandros Kostakis, 2018. "Do Stock Returns Really Decrease with Default Risk? New International Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(8), pages 3821-3842, August.
    16. Chen, Jie & Hill, Paula, 2013. "The impact of diverse measures of default risk on UK stock returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5118-5131.
    17. B Korcan Ak & Patricia M Dechow & Yuan Sun & Annika Yu Wang, 2013. "The use of financial ratio models to help investors predict and interpret significant corporate events," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 38(3), pages 553-598, December.
    18. Gay, Gerald D. & Lin, Chen-Miao & Smith, Stephen D., 2011. "Corporate derivatives use and the cost of equity," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 1491-1506, June.
    19. Idrees, Sahar & Qayyum, Abdul, 2018. "The Impact of Financial Distress Risk on Equity Returns: A Case Study of Non-Financial Firms of Pakistan Stock Exchange," MPRA Paper 85346, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Borochin, Paul & Yang, Jie, 2017. "Options, equity risks, and the value of capital structure adjustments," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 150-178.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:eurman:v:32:y:2014:i:2:p:275-287. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.