A selection of interesting articles we found recently on spirituality and corporate social responsibility.

Confucianism reduces minority shareholder expropriation in Chinese firms 
Using a sample of 12,061 firm-year observations from the Chinese stock market for the period of 2001–2011 and geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables, this study provides strong evidence that Confucianism is significantly negatively associated with minority shareholder expropriation, implying that Confucianism does mitigate agency conflicts between the controlling shareholder and minority shareholders.

This finding suggests that Confucianism has important influence on business ethics, and thus can serve as an important ethical philosophy or social norm to mitigate the controlling shareholder’s unethical expropriation behaviour. Moreover, Du’s findings reveal that the nature of the ultimate owner attenuates the negative association between Confucianism and minority shareholder expropriation, suggesting that Confucianism’s negative impact on minority shareholder expropriation is less pronounced for state-owned enterprises than for non-state-owned enterprises. The above results are robust to a variety of sensitivity tests and the findings are valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between Confucianism and minority shareholder expropriation.

More details are at: Xingqiang Du. 2015. Does Confucianism Reduce Minority Shareholder Expropriation? Evidence from China.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 661-716.


Convergent spiritual values in business 
Businesses frequently exclude spiritual values, viewing such values as impositions that belong in business as much as a priest belongs at a bachelor party. Yet spirituality should not be viewed as impositions from without, but as inclusions from within. Spiritual values should be included in a company to the extent that these values are shared by the principals of a firm.

Excluding spiritual values found in a “convergent consensus” runs contrary to freedom and liberty that Milton Friedman, among others, champions. Furthermore, the exclusion of such values from a business threatens to alienate business persons from their moral integrity. By cultivating what the author will call “the spiritual imagination,” businesses can facilitate fidelity between the convergent values of its principals, and the actions, policies, and culture of a company.

Read further at: Matthew Brophy. 2015. Spirituality Incorporated: Including Convergent Spiritual Values in Business.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 779-794.


Relationships between spiritual calling, job satisfaction, and organisational commitment
Religious and spiritual variables have largely been excluded from organisational research. Yet, there is a growing body of literature that suggests religion and spirituality have a significant and substantive role in influencing employees’ attitudes and behaviours at work. This paper aims to add to this literature by looking at the relationships of spiritual calling with job satisfaction and effective organisational commitment after accounting for a range of demographic, religious, and work controls.

Furthermore, the paper explores the interactive effect of spiritual calling and job satisfaction on organisational commitment. The data are drawn from a nationally representative sample of 771 adults in the United States. The results provide evidence of a positive relationship between spiritual calling and both job satisfaction and organisational commitment. Additionally, the results support the interaction of spiritual calling and job satisfaction explaining additional variance in organisational commitment. Specifically, not only is organisational commitment strongest when spiritual calling and job satisfaction are both strong, but the results also indicate that spiritual calling is positively associated with organisational commitment even if one’s job is not very satisfying.

For more details see: Mitchell J. Neubert & Katie Halbesleben. 2015. Called to Commitment: An Examination of Relationships Between Spiritual Calling, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 859-872.


Does religious affiliation of microfinance institutions affect their performance? 
As the debate over the value of microfinance institutions (MFIs) intensifies, it remains apparent that microfinance may, at the very least, be considered as one tool in the arsenal of the war against poverty in base of pyramid (BoP) markets. Given the variety of actors in the microfinance arena, stakeholders have placed a relatively new emphasis on performance reporting for MFIs, allowing comparisons and identifications of performance gaps.

One result of this scrutiny is an increased importance placed on MFIs’ social performance, with an eye to understanding measures of MFIs’ intent, process, and results in the social realm—in addition to their financial sustainability. While a number of factors may explain differences in social performance, in this paper the authors take a close look at a particular factor that may have a positive relationship with social performance—that of an MFI’s religious affiliation or religiosity.

Using archival data, Mitch Casselman and his team derived three sets of randomly paired samples, pairing religious MFIs with non-religious ones, and compared social performance indicators derived from the literature across the samples. The researchers sought to understand whether religiously-affiliated MFIs would, in fact, demonstrate stronger social performance intent, wider social performance reach via service delivery processes, and better social performance outcomes in BoP markets. Statistical analysis provided preliminary evidence that religiously-affiliated MFIs display stronger social performance, suggesting new avenues for future research.

Read further at: R. Mitch Casselman, Linda M. Sama & Abraham Stefanidis.
2015. Differential Social Performance of Religiously-Affiliated Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Base of Pyramid (BoP) Markets. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(3), 539-552.


Does Confucianism reduce board gender diversity? Firm-level evidence from China 
This study extends previous literature on the association between Confucianism and corporate decisions by examining Confucianism’s influence on board gender diversity. Using a sample of Chinese listed firms during the period of 2001–2011 and geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables, Xingqiang Du provides strong and consistent evidence to show that Confucianism is significantly negatively associated with board gender diversity, suggesting that the proportion of women directors in the boardroom is significantly lower for firms surrounded by strong Confucianism atmosphere than for firms located in regions with weak Confucianism atmosphere.

This finding also implies that the Confucian philosophical system has important impacts on business ethics and women’s status in corporate governance. Moreover, GDP per capita, the proxy for economic development level in a province in which a firm is located, attenuates the negative association between Confucianism and board gender diversity. The above results are robust to different measures of Confucianism and board gender diversity and are still valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between Confucianism and board gender diversity.

For full details see: Xingqiang Du. 2016. Does Confucianism Reduce Board Gender Diversity? Firm-Level Evidence from China.
Journal of Business Ethics, 136(2), 399-436.