Corporate Social Responsibility: Political Endorsement; Transitional Economy; China ;
The state plays a major role in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in emerging and transitional economies and often influences firms through political connection, and hence knowing how firms respond to the state’s CSR initiatives can inform policy making and has important implication on the sustainability of society and environment. However, existent studies show conflicting results on politically connected firms’ CSR participation.The authors examine the relationship between political endorsement and firms’ engagement in different types of CSR simultaneously. Using a representative sample of more than 1,000 private firms in the early 2000s, they find that politically endorsed firms engage more in philanthropic donation, but less in environmental practices, which impose higher costs and constraints than philanthropy. This is consistent with their explanation that they attempt to maintain legitimacy and discretion through selective engagement in CSR. Their study contributes to research on CSR in transitional economies by reconciling conflicting findings about the CSR engagement of politically connected firms, provides a new lens to illuminate firms’ strategic response in CSR, and has important policy implications.