An Investigation of Real Versus Perceived CSP in S&P-500 Firms
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- Liston-Heyes, C. & Ceton, G. J Bus Ethics (2009) 89: 283. doi:10.1007/s10551-008-9999-2
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Firms are spending billions annually in the name of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Whilst markets are increasingly willing to reward good and responsible firms, they lack the instruments to measure corporate social performance (CSP). To convince investors and other stakeholders, firms invest heavily in building a reputation for good corporate behaviour. This article argues that reputations for CSP are often unrepresentative of true CSP and investigates how differences in ‹perceived’ and ‹actual’ – as measured by the Fortune and KLD databases, respectively – can partly be explained by firm characteristics. Amongst other things, it finds that overrated firms are more likely to be relatively big, profitable, operating in non-polluting but competitive industries and with no history of wrong doings to their primary stakeholders. They will also typically spend a lot of effort satisfying the claims of their secondary stakeholders. Above all, the results emphasise the need for researchers to recognise that the databases measure different phenomenon and are not interchangeable.