Does Product Market Competition Foster Corporate Social Responsibility?
This study examines whether product market competition affects corporate social responsibility (CSR). To obtain exogenous variation in product market competition, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment provided by large import tariff reductions that occurred between 1992 and 2005 in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, I find that companies react to tariff reductions by increasing their engagement in CSR. This finding supports the view that CSR is a valuable resource that allows companies to improve their competitiveness. I further argue and provide evidence that the increase in CSR depends on the institutional environment as well as CSR- and firm-specific characteristics. Specifically, I find that the increase in CSR is larger for companies operating in industries where the CSR-sensitivity of customers is higher such as the business-to-consumer sector and durable experience goods markets. I also find that companies focus their additional CSR investments on their core stakeholders such as customers and employees. Finally, I find that the increase in CSR, albeit smaller, remains significant for companies facing higher financing constraints.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, Product Market Competition, Import Tariffs
JEL Classification: M14, F13
Date posted: September 14, 2012 ; Last revised: February 9, 2014