Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 100, Issue 1, pp 45-67

First online:

Corporate Governance and CSR Nexus

  • Maretno A. HarjotoAffiliated withGraziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University
  • , Hoje JoAffiliated withDepartment of Finance, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University Email author 

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Some argue that managers over-invest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to build their personal reputations as good global citizens. Others claim that CEOs strategically choose CSR activities to reduce the probability of CEO turnover in a future period through indirect support from activists. Still others assert that firms use CSR activities to signal their product quality. We find that firms use governance mechanisms, along with CSR engagement, to reduce conflicts of interest between managers and non-investing stakeholders. Employing a large and extensive sample of firms within Russell 2000, S&500 and Domini 400 indices during the 1993–2004 period, we find that consistent with the conflict-resolution hypothesis, the CSR choice is positively associated with governance characteristics, including board independence, institutional ownership, and analyst following. In addition, after correcting for endogeneity of CSR engagement, our results show that CSR engagement positively influences operating performance and firm value, supporting the conflict-resolution hypothesis as opposed to the over-investment and strategic-choice arguments. We find only a weak support of the product-signaling hypothesis as a major motive of CSR engagement.


corporate social responsibility corporate governance firm value and performance