The Influence of Ceo Decision-Making and Corporate Strategy on Corporate Social Performance

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Managerial Science and Applied Economics
corporate strategy
corporate social performance
Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
Strategic Management Policy
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In this dissertation, I examine the role of CEOs and corporate diversification on corporate social performance (CSP). In the first essay of the dissertation, I evaluate the financial implications of corporate social performance and assess the validity of a widely used measure of social performance, the KLD social ratings. In the first part of this essay, I examine the relationship between CSP and financial performance. The results show that CSP has a negative relationship with short-term financial performance, but a positive relationship with long-term financial performance. In addition, I examine whether introducing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act had a substantial impact on the relationship between CSP and financial performance. The results show that enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act may have caused changes in social perceptions about the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the second part of this essay, I examine the validity of the KLD social ratings. The analysis shows that the KLD social ratings effectively summarize the past CSP information of firms, but they predict future CSP less effectively. In the second essay of the dissertation, I examine how CEO retirement may influence CSP. I propose that CEOs reduce investment in social issues when they are approaching retirement, resulting in a negative relationship between CEO retirement and CSP. To understand why CEOs close to retirement reduces CSR investment, I compare two possible CEO motivations. The results suggest that CEOs may reduce investment in CSR in order to improve profit figures, which will eventually improve their post-retirement career continuation chances. In further support of this finding, the results show that CEOs who remain on the board of directors after retirement are less likely to reduce investment in CSR than CEOs who do not. In the third essay of the dissertation, I examine the influence of corporate diversification strategy on CSP. Previous work in this topic has ignored the important difference between firms pursuing unrelated and related diversification: the range of stakeholders and transferability of a brand. In this work, I note that unrelated diversifiers are likely to face much more diverse stakeholder demands than related diversifiers; moreover, they are likely to face bigger challenges in transferring the brand across subsidiaries. I propose that such differences will influence a firm’s investment in social issues, and eventually will result in varying levels of CSP.

Ian C. MacMillan
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