Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 131–144

Corporate Charitable Contributions: A Corporate Social Performance or Legitimacy Strategy?

  • Jennifer C. Chen
  • Dennis M. Patten
  • Robin W. Roberts
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-007-9567-1

Cite this article as:
C. Chen, J., Patten, D. & Roberts, R.W. J Bus Ethics (2008) 82: 131. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9567-1

Abstract

This study examines the relation between firms’ corporate philanthropic giving and their performance in three other social domains – employee relations, environmental issues, and product safety. Based on a sample of 384 U.S. companies and using data pooled from 1998 through 2000, we find that worse performers in the other social areas are both more likely to make charitable contributions and that the extent of their giving is larger than for better performers. Analyses of each separate area of social performance, however, indicate that the relation between giving and negative social performance (cited concerns) only holds for the environmental issues and product safety areas. We find no significant association between corporate philanthropy and employee relations concerns. In general, these findings suggest that corporate philanthropy may be more a tool of legitimization than a measure of corporate social responsibility.

Keywords

corporate charitable contribution corporate social performance legitimization social reporting 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer C. Chen
    • 1
  • Dennis M. Patten
    • 1
  • Robin W. Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BusinessBrigham Young University HawaiiLaieU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Accounting–5520Illinois State UniversityNormalU.S.A.
  3. 3.Kenneth G. Dixon School of AccountingUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoU.S.A.

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