Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 87, Supplement 1, pp 91–109 | Cite as

Corporate Motives for Social Initiative: Legitimacy, Sustainability, or the Bottom Line?



This article presents results of exploratory research conducted with managers from over 500 Norwegian companies to examine corporate motives for engaging in social initiatives. Three key questions were addressed. First, what do managers in this sample see as the primary reasons their companies engage in activities that benefit society? Second, do motives for such social initiative vary across the industries represented? Third, can further empirical support be provided for the theoretical classifications of social initiative motives outlined in the literature? Previous research on the topic is reviewed, study methods are described, results are presented, and implications of findings are discussed. The article concludes with the analysis of study limitations and directions for future research.


corporations social responsibility corporate citizenship motives reputation legitimacy image sustainability 


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We would like to thank Peggy Brønn’s students Rune B. Borgen, Trond Andersen, and Jon-Yngve Bakke for their work in making this paper possible. We are also grateful to the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise (NHO) for their research support. We also thank Carl Brønn for his invaluable input.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian School of Management, Institute of Communication, Culture and LanguagesOsloNorway
  2. 2.Florida International UniversityMiamiU.S.A.

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