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The effect of corporate social responsibility on firm risk


  • Pascal Nguyen
  • Anna Nguyen


Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and risk for a sample of US firms rated by KLD. Design/methodology/approach - – The authors’ approach involves three distinctive features. First, the authors use individual indicators of CSR to highlight which CSR dimension matters most for a firm’s risk. Second, the authors distinguish CSR strengths and concerns to reveal potentially nonlinear relationships. Third, the authors use a measure of risk that takes into account the predictable changes in a firm’s performance and that does not collapse the panel data into a single cross-section. This allows the CSR–risk relationship to be estimated by the variation within each firm and the variation across firms. Findings - – Consistent with existing results, the authors find that CSR concerns relating to diversity, employee relations and corporate governance increase the risk to shareholders. More interestingly, the authors show that CSR strengths relating to diversity and employee relations are also associated with higher risk. The positive influence of both CSR strengths and concerns on a firm’s risk is confirmed using aggregate CSR indicators. Research limitations/implications - – The results confirm that CSR strengths and concerns represent distinct constructs that should not be aggregated into a single measure. The effect of poor CSR on firm risk is more significant than what would appear to be the case using an aggregate index. Practical implications - – Although lack of CSR engagement may not affect (and may even benefit) a firm’s current performance, it may seriously damage its performance in the future. Firms should be aware of this risk. Originality/value - – The positive relationship found between CSR and firm risk underscores the inherent conflict between the interests of employees and those of shareholders. By committing to a more favorable treatment of their employees, firms incur a fixed cost that inevitably transfers more risk to their shareholders.

Suggested Citation

  • Pascal Nguyen & Anna Nguyen, 2015. "The effect of corporate social responsibility on firm risk," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 11(2), pages 324-339, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:11:y:2015:i:2:p:324-339

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Maite Cubas-Díaz & Miguel Ángel Martínez Sedano, 2018. "Do Credit Ratings Take into Account the Sustainability Performance of Companies?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(11), pages 1-24, November.
    2. Raiswa Saha & Shashi & Roberto Cerchione & Rajwinder Singh & Richa Dahiya, 2020. "Effect of ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility on firm performance: A systematic review," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 27(2), pages 409-429, March.


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