In light of the conflict between scholarly findings supporting corporate social responsibility’s positive impact on corporate financial performance (CFP) versus findings showing negative impact on CFP, the academic literature has reoriented toward determining the contingency conditions that affect the underlying relationships. This paper aims to investigate two potential contingency factors, the chief executive officer’s (CEO) corporate social responsibility (CSR) expertise and board members’ CSR expertise.
This paper uses an unbalanced panel of archival data of 168 firms from the S&P 500 index for the period 2006–2013. The analytic model is estimated using the feasible generalized least squares regression method with heteroscedasticity and panel-specific AR1 autocorrelation.
The findings reinforce the perspective that CSR positively affects the firm’s financial performance. The authors find that firms realize optimal results from their CSR investments when both the board and the CEO have greater CSR expertise. In other words, both, CEO CSR expertise and board CSR expertise positively impact the CSR–CFP relationship.
The findings of this study advance the literature in three important areas, namely, the social responsibility–financial responsibility relationship, the governance literature and upper echelons theory. First, the theoretical arguments and the empirical evidence highlight that CSR–CFP relationship is at least partly contingent upon the CEO’s and board members’ CSR expertise. Second, this study introduces two important variables: the CEO and board’s CSR experience as proxies for their CSR expertise. Future researchers may consider decomposing the various components of CSR to study the differential impact of each component on financial performance.
First, this study finds that while the CEO CSR expertise may be of value for the firm, such value can only be realized under a capable and effective board that has adequate knowledge in the field of CSR. Second, this study shows that the best-case scenario for firms occurs when both its board members and CEO have had greater prior CSR involvement that contributed to their knowledge inventory and skills. Greater knowledge and skills enhance the quality of the decisions that comprise the firm’s CSR strategy.
While it seems intuitive that prior CSR knowledge and expertise should lead to more and better CSR initiatives, there are few if any studies that empirically examine the effects of this premise on a firm’s financial performance. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study appears to be the first that directly tests the relationship between executives’ CSR experience and firm performance.
Al-Shammari, M.A., Banerjee, S., Shah, T.R., Doty, H. and Al-Shammari, H. (2023), "The value of expertise: how chief executive officer and board corporate social responsibility expertise enhance the financial effects of firms’ corporate social responsibility initiatives", Society and Business Review, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-10-2021-0183
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