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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 363–382 | Cite as

Impact of Corporate Environmental Responsibility on Operating Income: Moderating Role of Regional Disparities in China

  • Christina W. Y. Wong
  • Xin Miao
  • Shuang Cui
  • Yanhong Tang
Article

Abstract

Although the same environmental regulations apply to all regions in China, legal enforcement can be different due to local economic development priorities. There is still a lack of knowledge about how regional disparities affect the operating performance results of the implementation of corporate environmental management practices, thus providing little information for foreign companies when they invest and develop their production base in China. To fill this research gap, this paper collects data from the Fortune 500 Chinese firms to investigate the moderating role of regional disparities in affecting the performance results of corporate environmental management efforts based on the institutional theory. The disclosed corporate environmental responsibility (CER) practices serve as proxy to represent corporate environmental management practices. Content analysis approach was applied to collect and analyze CER practices published in the corporate reports of Chinese manufacturers. The results show that CER has a positive impact on operating income, while regional disparities influence the relationship between CER and corporate operating income. Specifically, CER and operating income are positively related in Eastern China; on the contrary, they are negatively related in Western China. This paper adds to the body of knowledge about environmental discrepancies in the same emerging economy, and provides insights for systematic consideration in terms of the issues of government environmental regulations and corporate environmental strategies.

Keywords

Corporate environmental responsibility Environmental regulations Governmental environmental responsibility Institutions Operating income Regional disparities 

Abbreviations

CER

Corporate environmental responsibility

CSR

Corporate social responsibility

EKC

Environmental Kuznets curve

EPL

Environmental protection law

KLD

Kinder Lydenberg domini

GDP

Gross domestic product

GER

Governmental environmental responsibility

NRBV

Natural-resource-based view

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the editors and reviewers for their valuable and insightful comments on earlier versions of the paper. This research was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71471047, Grant No. 71390522), the Humanities and Social Sciences Fund of Ministry of Education (Grant No. 15YJC630116), the Hong Kong Scholars Program (Grant No. XJ2013008), the Research Grants council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (Grant No. PolyU 152170/14E), and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Grant No. G-YZ48).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no other conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina W. Y. Wong
    • 1
  • Xin Miao
    • 2
  • Shuang Cui
    • 2
  • Yanhong Tang
    • 3
  1. 1.Business Division, The Institute of Textiles and ClothingThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.School of ManagementHarbin Institute of TechnologyHarbinChina
  3. 3.Department of Administrative Management, College of Humanities and LawNortheast Agricultural UniversityHarbinChina

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