Do Actions Speak Louder than Words? The Case of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Boston University School of Management
London Business School
June 7, 2013
This paper examines how existing firm resources and contemporaneous symbolic and substantive strategic actions interact to drive firm performance in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We integrate neo-institutional literature and the resource-based view of the firm to develop hypotheses about the differential impact of these distinct types of strategic CSR investments on firm performance, conditional on the level of existing CSR resources. We use the market-value equation and a database comprising 2,261 firms in 43 countries from 2002 to 2008. We find a positive impact on firm performance when a firm a) undertakes symbolic CSR actions in the presence of a larger stock of CSR resources or b) concurrently undertakes symbolic and substantive CSR actions. We discuss implications for future research and practice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), firm performance, legitimacy, resource-based view, symbolic and substantive actions, decoupling
JEL Classification: M10, M14working papers series
Date posted: July 6, 2012 ; Last revised: June 7, 2013
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