How Corporate Social Responsibility Influences Managers' Ethical Behavior: An Experimental Investigation of Spillover Effects

41 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016 Last revised: 9 Dec 2016

See all articles by Joseph Johnson

Joseph Johnson

University of Central Florida

Patrick Martin

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business

Bryan Stikeleather

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business

Donald Young

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business

Date Written: December 5, 2016

Abstract

Prior archival research documents a positive association between managers’ socially responsible actions and their ethical behavior in other domains and typically attributes this association to firm- and manager-level fixed effects. Using an experiment, we provide evidence about a new mechanism that helps explain why this association occurs. Specifically, we document that recalling socially responsible actions causes managers to act more ethically, a phenomenon we term CSR spillover. In addition, we provide evidence that CSR spillover 1) is moderated by how managers construe their socially responsible actions (i.e., abstractly or concretely), 2) is robust to situations where the manager’s socially responsible actions are costly or beneficial to the manager, and 3) occurs independently of firm- and manager-fixed effects. Because CSR reporting guidelines and firm policies can affect how managers construe their past socially responsible actions, our results also have several practical implications that we discuss.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, construal level theory, ethics

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Joseph and Martin, Patrick and Stikeleather, Bryan and Young, Donald, How Corporate Social Responsibility Influences Managers' Ethical Behavior: An Experimental Investigation of Spillover Effects (December 5, 2016). Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Research Paper No. WP 42; Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 16-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2729316 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2729316

Joseph Johnson

University of Central Florida ( email )

12744 Pegasus Dr.
Orlando, FL 32816
United States

Patrick Martin

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business ( email )

1309 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Bryan Stikeleather

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business ( email )

1014 Greene St
Columbia, SC 29208
United States
8037776034 (Phone)

Donald Young (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business ( email )

1309 East Tenth Street
Indianapolis, IN 47405-1701
United States

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