This week, we take a look behind the motivations to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Christian religion and sustainable criteria in consumption and investment decisions
This study aims to shed light on the relationship between individual and regional Christian religion (and religiosity) and individual sustainable behaviours in an exploratory manner, with a special focus on sustainable consumption and investment decisions.
To this end, the authors econometrically analyse online representative survey data that contains information on the self-reported importance of the consideration of ecological and social/ethical criteria in the context of a large variety of individual behaviours. The target group are financial decisions makers in German households, i.e., important actors in the largest economy in Europe.
Results of the econometric analysis suggest that Christian religion is positively related to a variety of (self-reported) ecological and social/ethical activities. The findings empirically support explanations postulating a positive relationship between Christian religion and environmental behaviour, such as the stewardship hypothesis, rather than opposite theories like White’s (Science 155(3767):1203–1207, 1967) dominion hypothesis.
Particularly, the authors find that both individual and regional measures for Christian religion positively affect various behaviours emphasizing the importance of individual and contextual norms for individual behaviour. Hence, the authors provide empirical evidence for the importance of Christian religion for another country than the USA, which is typically in the focus of similar studies. The results can be used for targeted information campaigns by politicians to enhance sustainable behaviours or acceptance for related policy measures.
Gunnar Gutsche. 2019. Individual and Regional Christian Religion and the Consideration of Sustainable Criteria in Consumption and Investment Decisions: An Exploratory Econometric Analysis.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(4), 1155–1182.
Role of shame in green consumption
Despite society’s increasing sensitivity toward green production, companies often struggle to find effective communication strategies that induce consumers to buy green products or engage in other environmentally friendly behaviours. To add clarity to this situation, the authors investigated the effectiveness of negative versus positive message framing in promoting green products, whereby companies highlight the detrimental versus beneficial environmental consequences of choosing less versus more green options, respectively.
Across four experiments, the authors show that negatively framed messages are more effective than positively framed ones in prompting consumers to engage in pro-environmental behaviours. More importantly, the authors find that anticipated shame is the emotion responsible for this effect.
Furthermore, both environmental concern and the type of product promoted serve as moderators; thus, the mediating role of anticipated shame is attenuated when environmental concern is low and the product is a luxury one. Finally, the authors discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of their work, along with its limitations and some directions for future research.
Cesare Amatulli, Matteo De Angelis, Alessandro M. Peluso, Isabella Soscia and Gianluigi Guido. 2019. The Effect of Negative Message Framing on Green Consumption: An Investigation of the Role of Shame.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(4), 1111–1132.
What motivates entrepreneurs to address climate change?
Scholars increasingly argue that entrepreneurs and their small- and medium-sized enterprises should play a central role in reducing the rate and magnitude of climate change. However, evidence suggests that while some entrepreneurs recognise their crucial role in addressing climate change, most do not.
Why some entrepreneurs nevertheless concern themselves with climate change has largely been overlooked. Some initial work in this area tentatively suggests that these entrepreneurs may engage with climate change because of their personal values, which either focus on financial or socio-ecological reasons, or a combination of both. Yet, it is unclear if all for-profit entrepreneurs engage with climate change for the same reasons, or if indeed their motivations vary across business types.
Over a period of four years, the authors examined entrepreneurs’ motivations to engage with climate change through a variety of qualitative research methods. The findings illustrate how entrepreneurs who address climate change have motivations specific to their business activity/industry and level of maturity. In each instance, the authors link these motivations to distinct conceptualisations of time and place. The authors contend that, through a more differentiated understanding of entrepreneurial motivations, policy-makers can draft climate change-related policies tailored to entrepreneurial needs.
Policies could both increase the number of entrepreneurs who already engage in climate change mitigation and leverage the impact of those entrepreneurs already mitigating climate change.
Read this Open Access article online for free
Katharina Kaesehage, Michael Leyshon, George Ferns and Catherine Leyshon. 2019. Seriously Personal: The Reasons that Motivate Entrepreneurs to Address Climate Change.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(4), 1091–1109.
Insights from the world’s largest most sustainable corporations
In this study, the authors investigate whether firms recognised as superior sustainability performers respond differently to climate change regulatory, physical and other risks/opportunities and examine whether such differences predict sustainability performance in subsequent years.
Further, the authors seek to gain insights from climate change programs and strategies of both superior and inferior sustainability performers. Adopting mixed methods, the authors use a merged sample from the Top500 world’s largest firms and the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.
The quantitative analyses show that greater awareness of physical and other climate change opportunities is what sets superior performers apart, and that superior future sustainability performance is related to a firm’s stated awareness of these two types of opportunities. Qualitative content analysis of narrative disclosures confirm that superior performers provide more detailed description of climate change strategies that go beyond managing climate change risks.
The study contributes to the limited amount of research highlighting the value of proactively seeking opportunities rather than merely focusing on risk management.
Evangeline O. Elijido-Ten and Peter Clarkson. 2019. Going Beyond Climate Change Risk Management: Insights from the World’s Largest Most Sustainable Corporations.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(4), 1067–1089.
The ethics of entrepreneurial shared value
In the business ethics literature, the growing interest in social entrepreneurship has remained limited to the assumption that pursuing a social mission will clash against the pursuit of associated economic achievements. This ignores recent developments in the social entrepreneurship literature which show that social missions and economic achievement can also have a mutually constitutive relation.
The authors address this gap adopting the notion of shared value (SV) for an ethical inquiry of social entrepreneurship. Using a sensemaking framework, the authors assume that the emergence of SV propositions can be captured through the analysis of how social entrepreneurs make sense of events of change, selecting the journey of three exemplar cases for an inductive empirical inquiry.
From their findings, the authors propose three themes for further examination.
First, the ethical groundings of entrepreneurial SV are mostly shaped by idiosyncratic imperatives that inform both social mission and economic gain from the onset.
Second, the ethical groundings of entrepreneurial SV will be likely operationalised as a filtering device, which allows for resilience as well as potentially detrimental blind spots.
And third, the ethical groundings of entrepreneurial SV are expressed through ongoing transparency. Whilst there are agendas, these are not necessarily hidden but instead are likely put on show for the scrutiny of markets and communities.
The authors hope that this evidence can add more light to our still modest understanding of the ethical groundings of social entrepreneurship.
Patricio Osorio-Vega. 2019. The Ethics of Entrepreneurial Shared Value.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(4), 981–995.
Does CEO compensation affect CS performance?
Using the behavioural agency model, the authors analyse how two compensation design characteristics, pay-performance sensitivity and duration of CEO compensation (taking into account multiple vesting periods), affect corporate social performance. The authors find that the performance sensitivity of CEO pay is negatively associated with poor social performance but also negatively affects strong social performance.
These results suggest that pay-performance sensitivity increases the relevance of potential negative consequences of poor social performance. However, the ‘insurance’ benefits of strong social performance may also become less relevant. With respect to the duration of CEO compensation, the authors find that it reduces poor social performance.
This finding confirms arguments that a long-term compensation time horizon increases the perceived threat that the negative effects of poor social performance will become visible. With their findings, the authors integrate behavioural agency theory with the traditional stakeholder views.
Jean McGuire, Jana Oehmichen, Michael Wolff & Roman Hilgers. 2019. Do Contracts Make Them Care? The Impact of CEO Compensation Design on Corporate Social Performance.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 375–390.
CEO ability and CSR
This study examines the impact of chief executive officer (CEO) ability on firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance. The authors find that firms’ CSR performance increases with CEO ability. Specifically, firms with more able CEOs are associated with more socially responsible activities and fewer socially irresponsible activities, and are associated with more stakeholder CSR rather than third-party CSR.
The authors further find that the positive relation between CEO ability and CSR is weakened for CEO who is also the chair of the board and for CEO who is close to retirement; and is weakened when the CSR emphasis exerted by a firm’s external environment is high. The results are robust after controlling for firm fixed effects and to the use of multiple measures of CSR performance and CEO ability.
Overall, the evidence is consistent with the conjecture that more able CEOs have less career concerns so that these CEOs are more willing to undertake long-term investments in socially beneficial activities, leading to better CSR performance.
Yuan Yuan, Gaoliang Tian, Louise Yi Lu & Yangxin Yu. 2019. CEO Ability and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 391–411.