Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 155–169 | Cite as

The Roles of Leadership Styles in Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Shuili Du
  • Valérie Swaen
  • Adam LindgreenEmail author
  • Sankar Sen


This research investigates the interplay between leadership styles and institutional corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. A large-scale field survey of managers reveals that firms with greater transformational leadership are more likely to engage in institutional CSR practices, whereas transactional leadership is not associated with such practices. Furthermore, stakeholder-oriented marketing reinforces the positive link between transformational leadership and institutional CSR practices. Finally, transactional leadership enhances, whereas transformational leadership diminishes, the positive relationship between institutional CSR practices and organizational outcomes. This research highlights the differential roles that transformational and transactional leadership styles play for a firm’s institutional CSR practices and has significant implications for theory and practice.


Corporate social responsibility Transformational leadership Transactional leadership Stakeholder-oriented marketing Organizational outcomes 


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Angus-Leppan, T., Metcalf, L., & Benn, S. (2009). Leadership styles and CSR practice: An examination of sensemaking, institutional drivers and CSR leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 93, 189–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angus-Leppan, T., Metcalf, L. A., & Benn, S. H. (2010). Leadership styles and CSR practice: An examination of sensemaking, institutional drivers and CSR leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 93(2), 189–213.Google Scholar
  4. Avolio, B. J., Bass, B. M., & Jung, D. I. (1999). Re-examining the components of transformational and transactional leadership using the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 72, 441–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bass, B. M. (1997). Does the transactional–transformational leadership paradigm transcend organizational and national borders? American Psychologist, 52, 130–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bass, B. M. (1998). Transformational leadership: Industrial, military, and educational impact. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  8. Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1993). Transformational leadership and organizational culture. Public Administration Quarterly, 17, 112–121.Google Scholar
  9. Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (2000). MLQ: Multifactor leadership questionnaire (2nd ed.). Redwood City, CA: Mind Garden.Google Scholar
  10. Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., Jung, D. I., & Berson, Y. (2003). Predicting unit performance by assessing transformational and transactional leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behaviour. Leadership Quarterly, 10, 181–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Basu, K., & Palazzo, G. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: A process model of sensemaking. Academy of Management Review, 33, 122–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Berger, I. E., Cunningham, P., & Drumwright, M. E. (2007). Mainstreaming corporate social responsibility: Developing markets for virtue. California Management Review, 49, 132–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bhattacharya, C. B., & Korschun, D. (2008). Stakeholder marketing: Beyond the four P’s and the customer. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 27, 113–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bhattacharya, C. B., Korschun, D., & Sen, S. (2008). Strengthening stakeholder–company relationships through mutually beneficial corporate social responsibility initiatives. Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 257–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2003). Self-concordance at work: Toward understanding the motivational effects of transformational leaders. Academy of Management Journal, 46, 554–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brookes, R., & Palmer, R. (2004). The new global marketing reality. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  18. Brown, T. J., & Dacin, P. A. (1997). The company and the product: Corporate associations and consumer product responses. Journal of Marketing, 61, 68–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Burns, J. M. G. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  20. Campbell, J. L. (2007). Why would corporations behave in socially responsible ways? An institutional theory of corporate social responsibility’. Academy of Management Review, 32, 946–967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Carr, A., & Kaynak, H. (2007). Communication methods, information sharing, supplier development and performance. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 27, 346–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. CorporatePhilanthropy. (2011). Giving in numbers: trends in corporate giving. Accessed December 21, 2011, from
  23. Coviello, N. E., Brodie, R. J., Danaher, P. J., & Johnston, W. J. (2002). How firms relate to their markets: An empirical examination of contemporary marketing practices. Journal of Marketing, 66, 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Derue, D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N., & Humphrey, S. E. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64, 7–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Drumwright, M. E. (1994). Socially responsible organizational buying: Environmental concern as a noneconomic buying criterion. Journal of Marketing, 58, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Du, S., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2007). Reaping relational rewards from corporate social responsibility: The role of competitive positioning. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 24, 224–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Du, S., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2011). Corporate social responsibility and competitive advantage: Overcoming the trust barrier. Management Science, 57, 1528–1545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Du, S., Sen, S., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2008). Exploring the social and business returns of a corporate oral health initiative aimed at disadvantaged Hispanic families. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 483–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ferrell, O. C., Gonzalez-Padron, T. L., Hult, G. T. M., & Maignan, I. (2010). From market orientation to stakeholder orientation. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 29, 93–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fombrun, C., & Shanley, M. (1990). What’s in a name? Reputation building and corporate strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 233–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Boston: Pitman Publishing.Google Scholar
  32. Freeman, R. E., Harrison, J. S., & Wicks, A. C. (2007). Managing for stakeholders: Business in the 21st century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Friedman, M. (1970, September 13). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profit. The New York Times Magazine, pp. 32–33, 122, 124, 126.Google Scholar
  34. Godfrey, P. C., Merrill, C. B., & Hansen, J. M. (2009). The relationship between corporate social responsibility and shareholder value: An empirical test of the risk management hypothesis. Strategic Management Journal, 30, 425–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Groves, K. S., & LaRocca, M. A. (2011a). Responsible leadership outcomes via stakeholder CSR values: Testing a values-centered model of transformational leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 98, 37–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Groves, K. S., & LaRocca, M. A. (2011b). An empirical study of leader ethical values, transformational and transactional leadership, and follower attitudes toward corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 103, 511–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Handelman, J. M., & Arnold, S. J. (1999). The role of marketing actions with a social dimension: Appeals to the institutional environment. Journal of Marketing, 63, 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hart, S. (1997). Beyond greening: Strategies for a sustainable world. Harvard Business Review, 75, 66–76.Google Scholar
  39. Hoffman, A. J., & Bazerman, M. H. (2007). Changing practice on sustainability: Understanding and overcoming the organizational and psychological barriers to action. In S. Sharma, M. Starik, & B. Husted (Eds.), Organizations and the sustainability mosaic: Crafting long-term ecological and societal solutions. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  40. Kotler, P., & Lee, N. (2005). Corporate social responsibility: Doing the most good for your company and your cause. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  41. Lindgreen, A., & Swaen, V. (2009). Corporate social responsibility. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12, 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lindgreen, A., Swaen, V., & Johnston, W. (2009). The supporting function of marketing in corporate social responsibility. Corporate Reputation Review, 12, 120–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lowe, K. B., Kroeck, K. G., & Sivasubramaniam, N. (1996). Effectiveness correlates of transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic review of the MLD literature. Leadership Quarterly, 7, 385–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Luo, X., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2006). Corporate social responsibility, customer satisfaction, and market value. Journal of Marketing, 70, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Luo, X., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2009). The debate over doing good: Corporate social performance, strategic marketing levers, and firm-idiosyncratic risk. Journal of Marketing, 73, 198–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Maak, T., & Pless, N. M. (2006). Responsible leadership in a stakeholder society—A relational perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 99–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Maignan, I., Ferrell, O. C., & Hult, G. (1999). Corporate citizenship: Cultural antecedents and business benefits. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 27, 455–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. March, J. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organizational Science, 2, 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Margolis, J. D., & Walsh, J. P. (2003). Misery loves companies: Rethinking social initiatives by business. Administrative Science Quarterly, 48, 268–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mattingly, J. E., & Berman, S. (2006). Measurement of corporate social action: Discovering taxonomy in the Kinder Lydenburg Domini ratings data. Business and Society, 45, 20–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McWilliams, A., & Siegel, D. (2001). Corporate social responsibility: A theory of the firm perspective. Academy of Management Review, 26, 117–127.Google Scholar
  52. Mendonca, M. (2001). Preparing for ethical leadership in organizations. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 18, 266–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Menon, A., & Menon, A. (1997). Enviropreneurial marketing strategy: The emergence of corporate environmentalism as marketing strategy. Journal of Marketing, 61, 51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1997). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts. Academy of Management Review, 22, 853–886.Google Scholar
  55. Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 71–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V., & Berry, L. (1994). Reassessment of expectations as a comparison standard in measuring service quality: Implications for further research. Journal of Marketing, 58(January), 111–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. (1978). The external control of organizations. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  58. Pless, N. M., & Maak, T. (2011). Responsible leadership: Pathways to the future. Journal of Business Ethics, 98, 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Podsakoff, P. M., & Organ, D. W. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12, 531–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 84, 78–92.Google Scholar
  61. Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2011). Creating shared value. Harvard Business Review, 89, 62–77.Google Scholar
  62. Quinn, R. E. (1988). Beyond rational management: Mastering the paradoxes and competing demands of high performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  63. Raghubir, P., Roberts, J., Lemon, K., & Winer, R. (2010). Why, when, and how should the effect of marketing be measured? A stakeholder perspective for corporate social responsibility metrics. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 29, 66–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Scott, W. R. (1987). The adolescence of institutional theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, 32, 493–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sen, S., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2001). Does doing good always lead to doing better? Consumer reactions to corporate social responsibility. Journal of Marketing Research, 38, 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Shamir, B. (1995). Social distance and charisma: Theoretical notes and an exploratory study. Leadership Quarterly, 6, 19–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Siemsen, E., Roth, A., & Oliveira, P. (2010). Common method bias in regression models with linear, quadratic, and interactional effects. Organizational Research Methods, 13(3), 456–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stieglitz, N., & Heine, K. (2007). Innovation and the role of complementarities in a strategic theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 28, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 18, 509–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Turban, D. B., & Greening, D. W. (1997). Corporate social performance and organizational attractiveness to prospective employees. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 658–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Turker, D. (2009). How corporate social responsibility influences organizational commitment. Journal of Business Ethics, 89, 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vera, D., & Crossan, M. (2004). Strategic leadership and organizational learning. Academy of Management Review, 29, 222–240.Google Scholar
  73. Waddock, S. (2004). Parallel universes: Companies, academics, and the progress of corporate citizenship. Business and Society Review, 109, 5–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Waddock, S. (2008). Leading corporate citizens: Vision, values, and value added (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.Google Scholar
  75. Waldman, D. A., Bass, B. M., & Einstein, W. O. (1987). Leadership and outcomes of performance appraisal processes. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 60, 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Waldman, D. A., & Siegel, D. S. (2008). Defining the socially responsible leader. Leadership Quarterly, 19, 117–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Waldman, D. A., Siegel, D. S., & Javidan, M. (2006). Components of CEO transformational leadership and corporate social responsibility. Journal of Management Studies, 43, 1703–1725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Walumbwa, F. O., Avolio, B. J., & Zhu, W. (2008). How transformational leadership weaves its influence on individual job performance: The role of identification and efficacy beliefs. Personnel Psychology, 61, 793–825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Yoon, Y., Gurhan-Canli, Z., & Schwarz, N. (2006). The effect of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities on companies with bad reputations. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16, 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Yukl, G. (1999). An evaluation of conceptual weaknesses in transformational and charismatic leadership theories. Leadership Quarterly, 10, 285–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuili Du
    • 1
  • Valérie Swaen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Adam Lindgreen
    • 4
    Email author
  • Sankar Sen
    • 5
  1. 1.Simmons School of ManagementBostonUSA
  2. 2.Louvain School of ManagementUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.IESEG School of ManagementLilleFrance
  4. 4.Department of Marketing, Cardiff Business SchoolUniversity of CardiffCardiffUK
  5. 5.Department of Marketing & International Business, Zicklin School of BusinessBaruch College/City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations