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Internal and external social responsibilities in new ventures: evidence from Chinese private firms

Yan Ye (School of Business Administration, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, Nanjing, China)
Kongyue Li (Sun Yat-sen Business School, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 30 September 2020

Issue publication date: 2 July 2021

348

Abstract

Purpose

Extant studies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) have mainly focused on established corporations; the context of new ventures remains largely unexplored. This study aims to address this gap by exploring the patterns of socially responsible activities in new ventures.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses the perspective of stakeholders to differentiate external CSR activities (efforts directed toward external stakeholders) from internal CSR activities (efforts directed toward employees) and performs empirical tests using a sample of 3,650 Chinese private firms.

Findings

This study empirically shows that new ventures are more involved in external CSR activities and less involved in internal CSR activities than mature firms. New ventures prioritize their limited resources to fulfill the expectations of external stakeholders rather than those of internal stakeholders. External stakeholders are considered primary stakeholders because of their potential to satisfy critical organizational needs at the start-up stage. However, new ventures tend to cut the spending on employee benefits, ignoring the potential effect of this investment on their long-term growth. After testing the moderating effect of financial resource availability, we find that new ventures with high financial resource availability are inclined to implement external CSR strategy rather than internal CSR strategy.

Research limitations/implications

This study focuses on new ventures and reveals the influence of organizational life cycle on CSR decisions. The findings may be limited to the context of China or emerging markets. Thus, further research is needed to compare the patterns of CSR activities in new ventures under different institutional environments.

Practical implications

This study indicates that new ventures are inclined to implement external CSR strategy rather than internal CSR strategy. This choice may be rational in the short term, but insufficient investment in employee benefits may affect the long-term growth of these firms. Therefore, they must also focus on their internal CSR activities.

Originality/value

This study is one of the few studies to investigate the patterns of socially responsible activities in new ventures in a transition economy. The findings in this study can help reconcile the seemingly contradictory views on whether new ventures are socially responsible and contribute to our understanding about CSR strategy in these firms.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

National Natural Science Foundation of China, 71272204.

Citation

Ye, Y. and Li, K. (2021), "Internal and external social responsibilities in new ventures: evidence from Chinese private firms", Management Decision, Vol. 59 No. 6, pp. 1462-1476. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-02-2020-0239

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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