Too Good to Be True: Firm Social Performance and the Risk of Data Breach
D'Arcy, J., Aderid, I., Angst, C. M., and Glavas, A. Forthcoming. "Too Good to Be True: Firm Social Performance and the Risk of Data Breach," Information Systems Research, pp. 1-45.
51 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 4, 2020
In this paper, we draw from research in the information systems (IS) security and management fields to theorize that a firm’s social performance, as measured by its engagement in socially responsible (or irresponsible) activities (i.e., corporate social performance (CSP)), affects its likelihood of being subject to computer attacks that result in data breaches. Drawing from stakeholder theory, and positioning employees and external hackers as key stakeholders of the firm with respect to information security, we propose a set of hypotheses that elaborate relationships between aspects of a firm’s CSP and the likelihood of experiencing a data breach. To test our hypotheses, we compiled a unique dataset that consists of publicly available data on firms’ data breach incidents, external assessments of their CSP, and other firm-specific factors. Our contribution is an intriguing and previously unknown account of CSP as it relates to information security. Paradoxically, our results suggest that firms that are noted to have poor CSP records (i.e., CSP concerns) are no more likely to experience a data breach, while a positive CSP record (i.e., CSP strengths) in areas which are peripheral to core firm activities (e.g., philanthropy, recycling programs) results in an elevated likelihood of breach. Delving into this latter finding, our results suggest that firms that simultaneously have peripheral CSP strengths along with high CSP concerns in other areas are at increased risk of breach. The increased likelihood of breach for firms with seemingly disingenuous CSP records suggests that perceived ‘greenwashing’ efforts that attempt to mask poor social performance make firms attractive targets for security exploitation.
Keywords: data breach, corporate social performance, stakeholder theory, information security, information security management, longitudinal, panel data, econometric analysis
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