A selection of interesting articles we found recently, finding that CSR practices are paying off in Asia.

Does CSR practice pay off in East Asian firms? A meta-analytic investigation
Academics and practitioners have long wondered whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice is beneficial for Asian firms. To better understand the relationships between CSR and business performance, the authors use meta-analytical techniques based on 31,773 East Asian firms reported in 28 empirical studies to provide cumulative evidence for the value of CSR. Meta-analytic results indicate a general positive association between CSR and business performance.

They find that environmental CSR has a stronger impact than social CSR on business performance, and that CSR practice has a stronger positive effect on operational performance than on financial performance. Further meta-analytic evidence indicates that several moderating issues explain significant variances in the effect size across studies, including economic development stage (developed vs. developing), firm size (SMEs vs. non-SMEs), organizational form (public vs. private), and measurement methods (archival data vs. self-report). Moreover, the researchers find that CSR importance in East Asia has not varied over the past 15 years. They conclude with theoretical contributions and practical implications.

Read more at: Mingjun Hou, Heng Liu, Peihua Fan & Zelong Wei. 2016. Does CSR practice pay off in East Asian firms? A meta-analytic investigation.
Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 33(1), 195-228.


Corporate social responsibility, firm reputation, and firm performance: The role of ethical leadership
This study investigated the antecedents and outcomes of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the moderating effects of ethical leadership. The research team collected two-wave, temporally lagged data from two sources (general and vice-general managers) in 199 tourism firms (hotels and travel agencies) in southeast China.

They have two major findings.

  • First, ethical leadership moderated its own indirect effect on firm reputation via CSR. It had an indirect and positive effect on firm reputation through CSR when ethical leadership was strong but not when it was weak.
  • Second, ethical leadership also moderated the indirect effect of CSR on firm performance via firm reputation. There was an indirect and positive effect of CSR when ethical leadership was strong but not when ethical leadership was weak.

This study highlights the role of ethical leadership in linking the antecedents and outcomes of CSR, and provides support for the stakeholder theory.

Find out more at: Yan Zhu, Li-Yun Su, & Alicia S. M. Leung. 2015. Corporate social responsibility, firm reputation, and firm performance: The role of ethical leadership.
Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 31(4), 925-947.


Religious atmosphere, law enforcement, and corporate social responsibility: Evidence from China
Using a sample of 4186 firm-year observations from the Chinese stock market during the period of 2007–2009, these researchers examine the influence of religious atmosphere on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the moderating role of law enforcement. Specifically, based on hand-collected data on religious atmosphere, their findings show that religious atmosphere is significantly positively associated with CSR, suggesting that religious atmosphere plays an important role in strengthening CSR.

Moreover, law enforcement attenuates the positive association between religious atmosphere and CSR, implying the substitutive effects between religious atmosphere (informal system) and law enforcement (formal institution) on CSR-increasing. In addition, above conclusions are still valid after using the change model to control for the potential endogeneity between religious atmosphere and CSR.

Find more details at: Xingqiang Du, Yingjie Du, Quan Zeng, Hongmei Pei & Yingying Chang. 2016. Religious atmosphere, law enforcement, and corporate social responsibility: Evidence from China.
Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 33(1), 229-265.


CSR affects financial performance positively in emerging economies
Weichieh Su and colleagues ask: What signals do firms in emerging economies send to stakeholders when they adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices? They argue that in emerging economies, firms that adopt CSR practices positively signal investors that their firms have superior capabilities for filling institutional voids. From an institution-based view, the researchers hypothesize that the institutional environment moderates the signalling effect of CSR on a firm’s financial performance.

Based on a sample of firms from ten Asian emerging economies, they find a positive relationship between CSR practices and financial performance. This positive relationship is stronger in the less developed capital market than in the more developed one. The financial benefits of CSR practices are also more salient in the low information diffusion market than in the high one. The authors emphasize that signalling theory and the institution-based view can jointly contribute to the CSR literature.

Read more at: Weichieh Su, Mike W. Peng, Weiqiang Tan & Yan-Leung Cheung. 2016. The Signaling Effect of Corporate Social Responsibility in Emerging Economies.
Journal of Business Ethics, 134(3), 479-491.


Voluntary CSR disclosure improving in Asia-Pacific banks
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting in six large banks each from Japan, China, Australia and India over the period of 2005-2011. CSR and banks’ annual reports and websites were analysed using a comprehensive disclosure framework to evaluate the themes of ethical standards, extent of CSR reporting, environment, products, community, employees, supply chain management and benchmarking. Over the seven years, bank CSR disclosure improved in all four countries.

Australian banks were found to have the best scores and Indian banks demonstrated maximum improvement. Despite the absence of legislative requirements or standards for CSR, this paper finds that CSR reporting continued to improve in quality and quantity in the region on a purely voluntary basis. This study indicates that financial institutions have a commitment to CSR activities. The comparison between financial institutions in developed and developing economies suggests that the motivation for such activities is complex. A review of the studied banks suggests that strategic rather than economic drivers are an important influence.

Practical implications include that Asia-Pacific Governments need not mandate bank CSR reporting standards as the banks improved their CSR reporting consistently over the seven years despite the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). A disclosure framework index is used to assess the comprehensiveness of bank practice in relation to CSR reporting. This approach enables cross-sectional and cross-country comparisons over time and the ability to replicate and apply to other industries or sectors.

For more details, see: Ameeta Jain, Monica Keneley & Dianne Thomson. 2015. Voluntary CSR disclosure works! Evidence from Asia-Pacific banks.
Social Responsibility Journal, 11(1), 2-18.


Dynamics of corporate social responsibility in Asia: Knowledge and norms
This article investigates Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Asia through two related themes: research knowledge and ethical norms. ‘CSR in Asia’ research is shown to be growing, particularly in East Asia. Compared with Western CSR literature, it is shown to be dominated by empirical, particularly quantitative, research. More substantively, this research is dominated by an issue focus on ethical norms, though this is in real decline. In this light, this article offers a closer investigation of the nature of ethical systems underpinning Asian business, and a comparison of Asian and Western conceptions of the community as a stakeholder.

Read the full text for free at: Rebecca Chunghee Kim & Jeremy Moon. 2015. Dynamics of corporate social responsibility in Asia: Knowledge and norms.
Asian Business & Management, 14(5), 349–382.