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Corporate Social Responsibility for Irresponsibility

Listed author(s):
  • Matthew J. Kotchen
  • Jon Jungbien Moon

This paper provides an empirical investigation of the hypothesis that companies engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to offset corporate social irresponsibility (CSI). We find general support for the causal relationship: when companies do more "harm," they also do more "good." The empirical analysis is based on an extensive 15-year panel dataset that covers nearly 3,000 publicly traded companies. In addition to the overall finding that more CSI results in more CSR, we find evidence of heterogeneity among industries, where the effect is stronger in industries where CSI tends to be the subject of greater public scrutiny. We also investigate the degree of substitutability between different categories of CSR and CSI. Within the categories of community relations, environment, and human rights--arguably among those dimensions of social responsibility that are most salient--there is a strong within-category relationship. In contrast, the within-category relationship for corporate governance is weak, but CSI related to corporate governance appears to increase CSR in most other categories. Thus, when CSI concerns arise about corporate governance, companies seemingly choose to offset with CSR in other dimensions, rather than reform governance itself.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17254.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17254.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
Publication status: published as Kotchen, M. and J. Moon, “Corporate Social Responsibility for Irresponsibility,” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (Contributions), 12:1 (2012) Article 55 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17254
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  1. Aaron K. Chatterji & David I. Levine & Michael W. Toffel, 2009. "How Well Do Social Ratings Actually Measure Corporate Social Responsibility?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 125-169, 03.
  2. David P. Baron, 2003. "Private Politics," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 31-66, 03.
  3. Thomas P. Lyon & John W. Maxwell, 2006. "Greenwash: Corporate Environmental Disclosure under Threat of Audit," Working Papers 2006-07, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  4. Vanessa M Strike & Jijun Gao & Pratima Bansal, 2006. "Being good while being bad: social responsibility and the international diversification of US firms," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 37(6), pages 850-862, November.
  5. David P. Baron & Daniel Diermeier, 2007. "Strategic Activism and Nonmarket Strategy," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 599-634, 09.
  6. Donald S. Siegel & Donald F. Vitaliano, 2007. "An Empirical Analysis of the Strategic Use of Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 773-792, 09.
  7. David P. Baron, 2001. "Private Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Integrated Strategy," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 7-45, 03.
  8. Markus Kitzmueller & Jay Shimshack, 2012. "Economic Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 51-84, March.
  9. Geoffrey Heal, 2005. "Corporate Social Responsibility: An Economic and Financial Framework," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 30(3), pages 387-409, July.
  10. Hong, Harrison & Kacperczyk, Marcin, 2009. "The price of sin: The effects of social norms on markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 15-36, July.
  11. Matthew J. Kotchen, 2007. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods for Bads: A Theory of Environmental Offsets," NBER Working Papers 13643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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