Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility: Volume 38

Cover of Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility
Subject:

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xxii
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Part I Ownership and Its Implications for Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and CSR

Abstract

We argue that the stakeholder and CSR literature can benefit from more systematic thinking about ownership. We discuss general notions of ownership in the economics and legal literature and the entrepreneurial notion of ownership we have developed in prior work. On this basis, we argue that stakeholder theory needs to deal more systematically with ownership as an economic function that can be exercised with greater or lesser ability, may be complementary to other economic functions, and works better when assigned to homogeneous groups. Some stakeholder groups are likely to lack what we call “ownership competence,” even if they have made relationship-specific investments, in part because of a diversity of interests. We also discuss CSR from the perspective of ownership and support Friedman’s original position, but with a twist. The point of Friedman’s paper is not that firms “should” maximize profits, but that managerial pursuit of “socially responsible” activities in a discretionary way imposes costs on owners. We suggest this problem is exacerbated with entrepreneurial managers who can devise new ways to prop up their self-interested actions with new creative CSR initiatives.

Abstract

We examine the effect of firm ownership status on three environmentally relevant variables: energy efficiency, toxic emissions, and spending on pollution abatement. Prior research has demonstrated that public firms invest less than private firms and suggests this difference is due pressure from investors to strongly favor short over long-term earnings. We extend this logic to other firm behavior, examining whether publicly owned facilities invest in energy efficiency and pollution reduction differently than privately owned facilities. Using data from the US Census of Manufactures from 1980 to 2009, information on pollution from the Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) and pollution abatement spending from the Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures survey, we find that facilities switching to public ownership are less energy efficient and spend less on pollution abatement than their privately owned counterparts. However, we also find that facilities switching to public ownership have lower toxic emissions than other facilities. We also examine how different sources of external pressures alter these results and find that increased regulatory scrutiny is correlated with increased energy efficiency, toxic emissions, and abatement spending. More concentrated institutional ownership in public firms is associated with lower energy efficiency as is a greater brand focus. These latter results are broadly consistent with the idea that publicly owned firms respond to pressures from investors with a reduced focus on environmentally relevant variables. However, since facilities switching to public ownership have lower toxic emissions, this suggests that there are two competing pressures in publicly owned facilities: cost pressures, consistent with lowered energy efficiency, and public perceptions, consistent with lower toxic emissions, particularly since TRI data became available. In this sense, the combination of ownership and transparency of information appears to influence how firms prioritize different stakeholders.

Abstract

We argue that the influence of public stakeholders (the state) and private stakeholders (nonstate social or economic stakeholders) on corporate philanthropy is interdependent, in that satisfying the state may increase the degree of scrutiny and pressure exerted by private stakeholders on the firm, particularly in institutional environments that place few checks and balances on the power of the state – thus creating suspicion that political patronage shelters firms’ social and moral wrongdoing. To test this theory, we examine the circumstances under which politically patronized firms engage more (or less) in corporate philanthropy. Utilizing a dataset that encompasses both publically traded and unlisted private firms in China, we find that corporate philanthropy is negatively associated with political patronage among unlisted firms but positively associated with political patronage among listed firms. These results are consistent with the predictions made based on our theoretical arguments. This chapter aims to foster further discussion regarding the interdependence of the influences exerted by different stakeholders on firms.

Abstract

While much of the debate and discourse on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices have focused on privately owned and operated organizations, enterprises owned by the state have escaped scrutiny. This study focuses specifically on the oil and gas sector to explore the drivers that propel state-owned oil and gas producers, the national oil companies, to embrace sustainability practices. We find that the proportion of independent directors, international exposure, and international involvement influence sustainability practices.

Part II Stakeholder Alignment and Coalitions

Abstract

In this chapter, we explain why firms selectively responding to the most powerful, legitimate, and urgent demands of their stakeholders will not bring about sustainability and offer suggestions on what we should do in light of this shortcoming. Sustainability issues tend to be wicked problems that require cooperation across parties and over time to define and resolve. Stakeholder pressures can bring sustainability to the fore, but government intervention is necessary to drive meaningful action to resolve such issues. Without government intervention, self-interested stakeholders can pressure firms to move away from the complex, long-term challenges of wicked problems. Yet, stakeholder pressure is also necessary, as without it, industries may self-regulate in self-serving ways. Our analysis thus suggests that collaboration between business, government, and other stakeholders is necessary to resolve the wicked problems of sustainability. We therefore urge the stakeholder literature to move beyond its libertarian underpinnings by (re)incorporating government into models of effective corporate governance.

Abstract

Venture capital’s role in clean energy (CE) technologies can be transformative in creating a sustainable society. Yet there are limitations on how far venture capitalists (VCs) can go in supporting these technologies. These limits exist because of the performance expectations of the main stakeholder group who hold VCs accountable. The financial backers of VCs expect an exceptional return on their investment, given the high level of risk they take on when they invest in unproven startups. This chapter explores the constraints that the financial obligations VCs have to their main backers put on their role in bringing about a more sustainable global society. It investigates VC firms’ responses to CE exits (initial public offerings (IPOs) and acquisitions) and shows how prior CE exits affect CE investment growth when we compare VCs exit records to that of their peers. This chapter demonstrates that VCs only increase CE investments when the cumulative number of exits substantially exceed that of their peers, while they decrease these investments when the cumulative number of their exits only moderately outpace that of their peers. The chapter suggests that the reason VCs respond in this way is the financial pressure VCs experience because of their dependence on their financial backers.

Abstract

Studies of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and stakeholder engagement have recently gained traction in the global strategy field. However, they have mostly developed as parallel streams, thereby limiting the cross-fertilization between global strategy research and stakeholder theory. We believe that because the CSR context in essence calls for the simultaneous participation of a large and heterogeneous set of local and global stakeholders, it requires a novel theorizing of multinational enterprises’ (MNEs’) worldwide practice implementation. Thus, we develop a series of propositions in the context of CSR to highlight the role stakeholders play in MNE subsidiaries’ implementation of initiatives, depending on the complex institutional pressures that they undergo, their distance from the parent’s home country, and their level of network embeddedness. We focus in particular on the role of stakeholder demands alignment in subsidiaries’ CSR implementation. Our conceptual propositions are enriched by the consideration of illustrative data on initiatives undertaken by Iberdrola from 2008 to 2014.

Abstract

A large and growing literature examines the explicit social responsibility practices of companies. Yet corporations’ greatest consequences for social welfare arguably occur through indirect processes that shape the social fabric that sustains generosity and mutual support within communities. Based on this logic, we theorize and test a model that suggests two pathways by which large corporations affect community philanthropy: (1) through direct engagement in community philanthropy and (2) by indirectly influencing the efficacy of community social capital, defined as the relationships among community members that facilitate social support and maintenance of social welfare. Our analysis of United Way contributions in 136 US cities over the 46 years from 1952 to 1997 supports our model. We find that the presence of corporations weakens the contributions of both elite and working-class social capital on community philanthropy. Our findings thus contribute to a novel view of corporate social responsibility based on how corporations influence the social capital of the communities in which they are embedded.

Abstract

In this chapter, we reexamine the notion that socially responsible behavior by firms will lead to increased financial performance. By identifying the underlying processes, institutional settings, and actors involved, we present a framework that is more attentive to the multiplicity and conditionality of the mechanisms operating in the often tenuous connection between firms’ social behavior and financial performance. Building and expanding upon existing analyses of the CSP–CFP linkage, our model helps to explain the mixed results from a wide range of empirical studies which examine this link. It also provides a novel theoretical account to help guide future researches that are more attentive to conditionalities and contextual contingencies.

Part III Dynamic Evolution of Concepts and Industry Practices

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine the interplay between external legitimacy judgments, internal identity beliefs, and conceptions of sustainability. Based on observation at industry events and interviews with key stakeholders, we examine how organizational actors interpret the concept of sustainability in civil aviation, an industry subject to intense legitimacy threat for its environmental impact. We find that the concept of sustainability is interpreted through a process of naturalization, by which conceptual ties to past practices are forged, and the concept becomes corrupted. We describe three mechanisms (relabeling, bundling, and zooming out) through which concept naturalization occurs, and we show how this process creates resonance between sustainability and an industry ethos, which captures the aspirations, ideals and values of the industry.

Abstract

Over the last several decades, the question of the import of firms’ social and environmental responsibilities has taken center stage. While once companies’ obligations to stakeholders and to sustainability were framed as normative issues, these criteria are taking on instrumental worth. Most recently, advocates of Responsible Investment have suggested that firms’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance possesses critical implications for companies’ creation and capture of long-term economic value. Employing textual analysis, this chapter analyzes the accounting, rating, and reporting standards that have been developed by which companies are expected to measure, communicate, and be evaluated for their ESG performance. Drawing from literature on organizational imprinting, this chapter finds significant differences across these standards, in terms of the determination of materiality and firms’ desired stakeholder relations. The divergence present in the meaning and measure of Responsible Investment across these standards possesses important strategic implications for managers in this field who must consider the implications of each guideline for internal and external purposes.

Abstract

We contribute to the emerging literature on strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its antecedents by undertaking a systematic analysis of the effect of rivalry on firm and industry CSR. We deal with the codetermination of competition and CSR by using instrumental variables in the firm-level analysis and by modeling it directly in the industry-level analysis. We find that higher intensity of rivalry and CSR of competitors increase firm CSR, ceteris paribus; however, in a more dynamic setting when firms can change their production output, more competition in fact decreases aggregate industry CSR. While seemingly contradictory, these findings suggest interesting implications for both managers and public policy makers.

Abstract

Social movements can disrupt existing industries and inspire the emergence of new markets by drawing attention to problems with the status quo and promoting alternatives. We examine how the influence of social movements on entrepreneurial activity evolves as the markets they foster mature. Theoretically, we argue that the success of social movements in furthering market expansion leads to three related outcomes. First, the movement-encouraged development of market infrastructure reduces the need for continued social movement support. Second, social movements’ efforts on behalf of new markets increase the importance of resource availability for market entry. Third, market growth motivates countermovement that reduce the beneficial impact of initiator movements on entrepreneurial activity. We test these arguments by analyzing evolving social movement dynamics and entrepreneurial activity in the US wind power industry from 1992 to 2007. We discuss the implications of our findings for the study of social movements, stakeholder management, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.

Abstract

One way of looking at the association between ethics and stakeholder theory – of examining the idea that stakeholder theory has a strong moral foundation – is to consider how the stakeholder approach might in fact be directly driven by and guided by the moral obligations of business. An alternative perspective we offer is that stakeholder theory only indirectly derives from the moral obligations of business, with business purpose serving as a mediating factor. We work through the fairly straightforward logic behind that alternative perspective in this chapter. We argue that it is a better way to think about the association between ethics and stakeholder theory, particularly because it allows for a theoretical and practical distinction between corporate social responsibility and stakeholder theory. Stakeholder theory can thereby continue developing as a theory of strategic management, even as it brings morals to the fore in ways that other approaches to strategic management do not.

Index

Pages 389-396
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Cover of Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility
DOI
10.1108/S0742-3322201838
Publication date
2018-08-10
Book series
Advances in Strategic Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78756-316-2
eISBN
978-1-78756-315-5
Book series ISSN
0742-3322