Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 477–493 | Cite as

“How does Sustainability Leadership Affect Firm Performance? The Choices Associated with Appointing a Chief Officer of Corporate Social Responsibility”

  • Frank Wiengarten
  • Chris K. Y. Lo
  • Jessie Y. K. Lam


Recent years have seen a significant increase in stakeholder pressure on firms to be not only economically sustainable but also from an environmental and social perspective. Besides operational changes in practices and products companies have reacted toward this increased pressure from a strategic perspective through structural changes of their top management team (TMT). A recent addition to the TMT has been the appointment of the chief officer of corporate social responsibility (CSR). In this paper, we take a behavioral perspective and investigate how the employment of a chief officer of CSR to the TMT impact on firm performance. Specifically, we explore how certain characteristics of the newly appointed chief executive of CSR impact on a firm’s financial performance. We collected secondary, longitudinal data of listed companies in the United States. Results indicate that appointing a chief executive of CSR does under certain conditions and characteristics result in financial performance benefits. Furthermore, the greatest financial performance benefits can be achieved if the appointee is female and has a CSR functional background.


Corporate social responsibility Financial performance Top management team 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Wiengarten
    • 1
  • Chris K. Y. Lo
    • 2
  • Jessie Y. K. Lam
    • 2
  1. 1.ESADE School of BusinessRamon Llull UniversityBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.The Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

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