Masters of Disasters? An Empirical Analysis of how Societies Benefit from Corporate Disaster Aid
Academy of Management Journal (Forthcoming)
Posted: 2 Sep 2016 Last revised: 20 Apr 2018
Date Written: December 13, 2017
Corporations have become increasingly influential within societies around the world, while the relative capacity of national governments to meet large social needs has waned. Consequentially, firms are being asked to adopt responsibilities that have traditionally fallen to governments, aid agencies, and other types of organizations. There are questions, though, about whether or not this is beneficial for society. We study this in the context of disaster relief and recovery; an area where companies account for a growing share of aid as compared to traditional providers. Drawing on the dynamic capabilities literature, we argue that firms are better-equipped than other types of organizations to sense areas of need following a disaster, seize response opportunities, and reconfigure resources for fast, effective relief efforts. As such, we predict that — while traditional aid providers are important for disaster recovery — relief will arrive faster, and nations will recover more fully when locally active firms account for a larger share of disaster aid. We test our predictions with a proprietary dataset comprising information on every natural disaster and reported aid donation worldwide from 2003 to 2013. Our analysis uses a novel, quasi-experimental technique known as the synthetic control method and shows that nations benefit greatly from corporate involvement when disaster strikes.
Keywords: corporate disaster giving, corporate philanthropic disaster response, corporate social responsibility, disaster recovery, disaster risk management, business responses to natural disasters, humanitarian aid
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