Our recent reading on articles considering CSR practices at the organisational level.

The Local Roots of Corporate Social Responsibility
Attig and Brockman provide new evidence that the prosocial attitudes of local residents play a significant role in determining a firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement. The authors show that firms are more likely to engage in CSR initiatives when they are headquartered in areas with large senior citizen populations and where a large fraction of the population makes charitable donations.

In contrast, the authors find that firms are less likely to engage in CSR initiatives when they are headquartered in areas with large religiously affiliated groups. After establishing the local demographic roots of CSR demand, the writers then examine the relationship between the firm’s CSR activities and its market valuation.

Results suggest that CSR initiatives create value when they are properly aligned with local residents’ prosocial attitudes. Overall, this study stresses the role of local residents’ CSR preferences in mediating the relationship between CSR and market valuations.

Attig, N. & Brockman, P. 2017. The Local Roots of Corporate Social Responsibility. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 479–496.


“Buying” Corporate Social Responsibility: Organisational Identity Orientation as a Determinant of Practice Adoption
In this paper, Wickert et al explore the empirical phenomenon of large multinational corporations (MNCs) acquiring socially oriented enterprises, such as the Unilever–Ben & Jerry’s, and the L`Oréal-The Body Shop takeovers. When focusing on these cases, the authors argue that variance in organisational identity orientations, as the dominant logic of managers within the acquiring organisations, determines whether MNCs consider the transaction not only in financial terms, but also decide to adopt “social technology” in the form of CSR-related organisational practices from the acquired unit.

The authors argue that in turn based on a “match” with the organisational identity of the acquired unit, managers will opt to adopt CSR practices more fully or selectively, and in more substantial or symbolic ways. With these propositional arguments the researchers not only aim to contribute to the literature on CSR adoption by MNCs, but the authors also set out to develop theory on the widespread but so far undocumented phenomenon of MNCs “buying CSR” by acquiring socially oriented enterprises.

Read the full paper for free: Wickert, C., Vaccaro, A. & Cornelissen, J. 2017. “Buying” Corporate Social Responsibility: Organisational Identity Orientation as a Determinant of Practice Adoption.  
Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 497–514.


Do Social Movements Influence Corporate Social Initiatives? 
This article offers a first step toward a multi-level theory linking social movements to corporate social initiatives. In particular, building on the premise that social movements reflect ideologies that direct behaviour inside and outside organizations, this essay identifies mechanisms by which social movements induce firms to engage with social issues.

First, social movements are able to influence the expectations that key stakeholders have about firms’ social responsibility, making corporate social initiatives more attractive.

Second, through conflict or collaboration, they shape firms’ reputation and legitimacy.

And third, social movements’ ideologies manifest inside the corporations by triggering organizational members’ values and affecting managerial cognition. The essay contributes to the literatures on social movements and CSR, extends the understanding of how ideologies are manifested in movement-business interactions, and generates rich opportunities for future research.

Georgallis, P. 2017. The link between social movements and corporate social initiatives: toward a multi-level theory. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 142(4), 735–751.


Corporate Social Responsibility as Institution: A Social Mechanisms Framework 
Recent research suggests that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is institutionalised amongst multinational corporations. Yet CSR scholarship faces considerable challenges.

An agreed definition is lacking, even amongst researchers adopting aligned approaches. Studies remain heavily focused on making a business case for CSR, despite its widespread acceptance into business practice. Few studies examine CSR’s on-ground implications for the communities it purports to help, favouring instead a macro-level focus. And concerns about CSR’s sincerity, motivations and ethics perpetuate questions about its integrity.

This article argues that new institutionalism is well placed to respond to these core challenges for CSR, and that new institutionalist perspectives can complement and enrich other common theoretical approaches. It contributes a social mechanism-based framework for CSR, identifying and exploring the key social mechanisms that institutionalise it; namely, discourse, mimesis, normative learning and coercion. Understanding CSR as an institution facilitates new and different explorations of its causes and effects and opens new avenues for scholarly inquiry.

Illustrative examples from a 3.5-year study of CSR in the global mining industry are presented to explore the implications of CSR as an institution and to suggest pathways for innovative research.

Bice, S. 2017. Corporate Social Responsibility as Institution: A Social Mechanisms Framework. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 17–34.


Congruence in Corporate Social Responsibility: Connecting the Identity and Behaviour of Employers and Employees 
The multi-disciplinary interest in social responsibility on the part of individuals and organizations over the past 30 years has generated several descriptors of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee social responsibility (ESR). These descriptors focus largely on socially responsible behaviour and, in some cases, on socially responsible identity. Very few authors have combined the two concepts in researching social responsibility.

This situation can lead to an oversimplification of the concept of CSR, thereby impeding the examination of congruence between employees and organizations with regard to social responsibility. In this article, the authors connect two dimensions of social responsibility—identity and behaviour—to build a Social Responsibility Matrix consisting of four patterns for classifying the social responsibility of employees and employers: Low Social Responsibility, Identity-based Social Responsibility, Behaviour-based Social Responsibility, and Entwined Social Responsibility. The positioning of employers and employees on the same matrix (as determined by internal, relational, and/or external factors) is vital for assessing the level of congruence between employers and employees with regard to social responsibility and for discussing the possible outcomes for both parties. These identity and behaviour-based patterns, determinants, and levels of congruence connecting employees and employers form the foundation for the multi-dimensional, dynamic ESR–CSR Congruence Model, as exemplified in a case study.

This contribution enhances the existing literature and models of CSR, in addition to improving the understanding of employee–employer congruence, thereby broadening the array of possibilities for achieving positive organizational outcomes based on CSR.

Haski-Leventhal, D., Roza, L. & Meijs, L.C.P.M. 2017. Congruence in Corporate Social Responsibility: Connecting the Identity and Behavior of Employers and Employees. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 35–51.


Fit Between Organisations and their CSR Activities 
Several studies have focused on the effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) fit on external stakeholders’ evaluations of CSR activities, attitudes towards companies or brands, and behaviors.

The results so far have been contradictory. A possible reason may be that the concept of CSR fit is more complicated than previously assumed. Researchers suggest that there may be different types of CSR fit, but so far no empirical research has focused on a typology of CSR fit.

This study fills this gap, describing a qualitative content analysis of the congruence between six organizations and their various CSR activities. Ten annual reports and CSR reports were analysed, and 102 specific CSR activities were identified.

The results show that two levels of fit must be distinguished: based on the means for and the intended ends of the CSR activity. Furthermore, six different types of fit were found, focusing on (1) products and services, (2) production processes, (3) environmental impact, (4) employees, (5) suppliers, and (6) geographical location. Considering the above variety of fit possibilities, the findings emphasize the role of CSR communication as a means of creating fit perceptions.

Read the full paper for free: de Jong, M.D.T. & van der Meer, M. 2017. How Does It Fit? Exploring the Congruence Between Organizations and Their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities.
Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 71–83.


Comparing Canadian and U.S. CSR Strategic Alliances, Reporting & Performance 
Thorne et al. considered the question of how corporate social responsibility (CSR) differs between Canada and the U.S. Prior research has identified that national institutional differences exist between the two countries

[Freeman and Hasnaoui, J Business Ethics 100(3):419–443, 2011], which may be associated with variations in their respective CSR practices. Matten and Moon [Acad Manag Rev 33(2):404–424, 2008] suggested that cross-national differences in firms’ CSR are depicted by an implicit–explicit conceptual framework: explicit CSR practices are deliberate and more strategic than implicit CSR practices.

The researchers compared Canada and U.S. CSR and examined how CSR strategic alliances, CSR reporting, and CSR performance in the two countries correspond to implicit versus explicit CSR practices, which they link to stakeholder and signalling perspectives. Thorne et al. relied upon a new database, the Sustainalytics Global Platform (SGP), and found a positive association between CSR strategic alliances and the number of years that firms have issued standalone CSR reports in both countries. Moreover, the researchers found that CSR scores mediated this association in the U.S., as U.S. firms with high CSR scores typically engage in more CSR strategic alliances. In Canada, they did not find this mediating effect.

These findings suggest that U.S. firms engage in signalling activities that are more strategic and explicit than their Canadian counterparts. This paper closes with implications for practice and theory.

Thorne, L., Mahoney, L.S., Gregory, K. et al.  2017. A Comparison of Canadian and U.S. CSR Strategic Alliances, CSR Reporting, and CSR Performance: Insights into Implicit–Explicit CSR.  
Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 85–98.