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Corporate social responsibility investment, third-party assurance and firm performance in India: The moderating effect of financial leverage

Kofi Mintah Oware (Department of Business Administration, Mangalore University, Konaje, India)
Thathaiah Mallikarjunappa (Department of Business Administration, Mangalore University, Konaje, India)

South Asian Journal of Business Studies

ISSN: 2398-628X

Article publication date: 2 October 2019

Issue publication date: 4 November 2019

1056

Abstract

Purpose

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has evolved since the nineteenth century and is becoming mandatory for firms. However, the association between CSR and financial performance remains fluid. The purpose of this paper is to examine the mediating effect of third-party assurance (TPA) and the moderating effect of financial leverage in CSR – financial performance relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

Panel and hierarchical regression models are used to analyse data covering 29 companies in the Indian stock market for the period, from 2010 to 2017.

Findings

The study shows that CSR has a positive association with financial performance (ROA (return on assets) and ROE (return on equity)) of listed firms in India. The second finding shows that TPA has a negative association with financial performance (ROA and ROE) and negatively mediate the association between CSR and financial performance (ROA and ROE). Further, the findings also show that financial leverage has a negative association with ROA but no association with ROE, and is unable to moderate the association between CSR and financial performance. Lastly, financial leverage has no association with TPA and unable to moderate the association between CSR and TPA.

Research limitations/implications

The scope of the study is limited to large firms submitting sustainability reports based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, and this criterion is likely to limit the generalisation of the findings.

Practical implications

Capital market investors look for new markets to invest, and CSR results show a positive return for equity investors, which may encourage capital market investments in a mandatory CSR environment. The mediating effect of TPA has the potential to force managers to undertake CSR activities, which leads to a user-friendly environment and improved social sustainability.

Originality/value

Previous studies show a mix association between CSR and financial performance. Nevertheless, some of the possible reasons for the mix association have not received scholarly attention. Hence, the role of the mediating effect of TPA and the moderating effect of financial leverage in CSR-financial performance relationship.

Keywords

Citation

Oware, K.M. and Mallikarjunappa, T. (2019), "Corporate social responsibility investment, third-party assurance and firm performance in India: The moderating effect of financial leverage", South Asian Journal of Business Studies, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 303-324. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAJBS-08-2018-0091

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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