Corporate social responsibility and executive compensation: exploring the link

Patti Collett Miles (Assistant Professor of Management at the Department of Management, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA)
Grant Miles (Associate Professor‐Management at the Department of Management, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 1 March 2013



The purpose of this paper is to explore whether socially responsible firms recognize the potential conflicts that come with higher levels of executive compensation, and thus limit executive pay relative to what is being paid in other firms. In the process, the relationships between executive compensation and financial performance, and corporate social performance and financial performance are examined to determine whether potential compensation and social performance links are coming at the expense of company financial performance.


The empirical data for this research were obtained from a stratified sample of Fortune 1000 companies pulled from across more than 15 industries. Multiple regression analysis is utilized to test three hypotheses.


In line with the hypotheses, results indicate that companies identified as good corporate social performers do in fact have lower levels of executive compensation and there is some support found for a positive relationship between social and financial performance.

Practical implications

The results provide support for the view that firms concerned about social responsibility can put restrictions on executive compensation and still achieve good financial performance, and make a case that executive compensation should in fact be a concern of all socially responsible firms.


There are few studies that examine the direct link between executive compensation and corporate social responsibility. This study addresses this gap in the literature and adds to the discussion as to whether socially responsible firms might seek to better balance compensation across the firm and emphasize that profit, both individual and corporate, must be earned within a system that is fair and balanced for all.



Collett Miles, P. and Miles, G. (2013), "Corporate social responsibility and executive compensation: exploring the link", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 76-90.

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