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
Date Written: December 5, 2016
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
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