Executive motives and corporate social responsibility
26 September 2018
University of Antwerp, Hof van Liere, Elsschot Hall - Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus
Pof. dr. Christophe Boone, Prof. dr. Tine Buyl
PhD defence Miha Sajko - Faculty of Business and Economics
Why do firms differ so much in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts? Prior research has predominantly focused on external triggers and organizational factors to explain this variance. Comparatively, much less attention has been given to the idea that a firm’s stance on CSR stems from its top decision-makers, even though countless anecdotal examples from the popular press are highly suggestive of a link between CSR and corporate leaders. The aim of this dissertation is to address this gap by providing a comprehensive understanding of how motives of top executives affect the well-being of organizational stakeholders. Throughout the four studies that comprise this dissertation, we examine the nature of executive motives, their origins, how they change across the career of a CEO, how they relate to CSR, and how they eventually impact the long-run fate of organizations.
In the first study, we provide a systematic assessment of the ‘CEO effect’—that is, the amount of the total variance in CSR explained by CEOs. The second study builds upon the findings from neuroeconomics to theorize how top executives make strategic decisions related to CSR based on their personal values and environmental cues. In the third study, we integrate disparate literatures on birth cohorts and career dynamics to demonstrate how CEO age simultaneously determines which CSR initiatives executives prioritize more and the extent to which executives invest in CSR. Finally, the fourth study examines, in the context of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, how motives of top executives contribute to organizational resilience to systemic shocks by shaping firm CSR profiles.