Walking and Talking Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications of Firm Size and Organizational Cost

28 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2016

See all articles by Christopher Wickert

Christopher Wickert

VU University Amsterdam

Andreas Georg Scherer

University of Zurich

Laura J. Spence

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Date Written: November 2016

Abstract

In this paper we address two interrelated research gaps in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) literature. The first results from a lack of understanding of different patterns of CSR engagement with respect to CSR talk (impression management and the creation of symbolic images and documentation) and CSR walk (substantive implementation of CSR policies, structures and procedures). Related to this, the second gap concerns limited knowledge about the influence of firm size on CSR engagement. We develop a conceptual model that explains differences in CSR talk versus walk based on organizational cost and firm size. This allows us to theorize the antecedents of what we call the large firm implementation gap (large firms tend to focus on communicating CSR symbolically but do less to implement it into their core structures and procedures) and vice versa the small firm communication gap (less active communication and more emphasis on implementation). Our model expands a new theoretical understanding of CSR engagement based on as yet underemphasized firm‐level antecedents of CSR, and opens up several new avenues for future, and in particular comparative, research.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, firm size, multinational corporations, organizational cost, small and medium‐sized enterprises, small business

Suggested Citation

Wickert, Christopher and Scherer, Andreas Georg and Spence, Laura J., Walking and Talking Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications of Firm Size and Organizational Cost (November 2016). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 53, Issue 7, pp. 1169-1196, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2847402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joms.12209

Christopher Wickert (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Andreas Georg Scherer

University of Zurich

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Laura J. Spence

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

Egham
Surrey, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

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