, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 29-44

Corporate Reputation and Philanthropy: An Empirical Analysis

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This paper analyzes the determinants of corporate reputation within a sample of large UK companies drawn from a diverse range of industries. We pay particular attention to the role that philanthropic expenditures and policies may play in shaping the perceptions of companies among their stakeholders. Our findings highlight that companies which make higher levels of philanthropic expenditures have better reputations and that this effect varies significantly across industries. Given that reputational indices tend to reflect the financial performance of organizations above other factors (Fryxell, G. E. and J. Wang: 1994, Journal of Management 20, 1–14) and that elements of the literature emphasise that discretionary aspects of social responsibility, including corporate donations, may not be in the financial interests of organizations (e.g. Friedman, M.: 1970, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”, New York Times Magazine, September 13), this is a significant finding. It suggests that philanthropic expenditures may play a significant role in stakeholder management and may, in particular, lead to stakeholders holding more positive impressions of philanthropic corporations.