Differentiating the impact of CSR strengths and concerns on firm performance: An investigation of MNEs and US domestic firms

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Journal of Management Development


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess the Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini & Co. (KLD) dimensions by distinguishing between corporate social responsibility (CSR) strengths and concerns and examine their individual effects on firm financial performance. Additionally, the study distinguishes between US domestic firms and multinational enterprises (MNEs) to provide additional insights and explore if any differences exist. Design/methodology/approach: Data from the KLD and Compustat databases are analyzed for a sample of 562 US firms, of which 359 are multinational corporations, and 203 operate solely in the USA. A path analysis was used to examine the effect of CSR strengths and concerns on firm financial performance. Findings: The findings show that increases in CSR strengths as well reductions in CSR concerns are positively linked to firm financial performance. The results also suggest that addressing concerns would be more beneficial to MNEs as opposed to US domestic firms. Research limitations/implications: First, it should be noted that this study is cross-sectional, thus limiting confirmation of causality. Future studies can confirm causality by conducting longitudinal analysis. Also, some country-specific regulations require firms to make certain CSR-related information publicly available. Future studies can focus on countries that have such regulations and make comparisons with countries that allow firms to decide for themselves whether or not to make CSR-related activities publicly available. Originality/value: When measuring CSR, previous studies have combined the CSR strengths and concerns latent variables of the KLD database. This can potentially be a problem because CSR strengths and concerns are not meant to measure the same issues. By separating them into two distinct latent variables, the authors can better understand their individual effects on firm performance.

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