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Corporate social performance and cost of debt: the relationship

Barbara Sveva Magnanelli (John Cabot University, Rome, Italy)
Maria Federica Izzo (Department of Business and Management, Libera Universita Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, Rome, Italy)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




This paper aims to investigate the link between corporate social performance (CSP) and cost of debt financing. Despite academic debate has focused on the link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CSP (expressed through accounting and market measures of profitability), few empirical researches have analysed the relations between CSR, cost of debt and its relation with the risk profile of a firm. The literature on the cost of debt determinants generally documents a negative association between measures of the risk of the firm and its cost of debt. The literature on CSR defines risk reduction as one of the potential benefits related to CSR activities. Thus, the expectation is that high CSP scores are inversely related to cost of debt.


Using a unique data set of 332 firms over a time period of five years antecedent to the global financial crisis, a linear regression model is applied.


The results show a positive relation between CSP and cost of debt, demonstrating that CSR is not a value driver with an impact on the firm’s risk profile.

Practical implications

The research has also practical implications as it makes managers aware of the potentiality of CSP to reduce the firm’s cost of debt.


These findings enlarge the empirical research on the value of CSP, expanding it towards a quite new area of investigation: the cost of external financing.



Magnanelli, B.S. and Izzo, M.F. (2017), "Corporate social performance and cost of debt: the relationship", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 250-265.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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