Both academics and practitioners have devoted growing attention to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the past few decades. Recently, an emerging body of literature has started to examine the cognitive drivers and financial outcomes of CSR. This Ph.D. research aims to shed light on the overall research question: How do the time perspectives of managers and investors affect their actions with respect to CSR? The dissertation consists of three empirical studies (in addition to introductory, literature review and concluding chapters).
Specifically, the first empirical study explores how managerial cognition influences the CSR strategies of Chinese small and medium enterprises (SMEs). An analysis of qualitative data obtained through interviews showed that integrative complexity and temporal orientation work together to shape managers’ strategic goals with respect to CSR, and hence lead to differences in CSR strategies.
The second empirical study examines the impact of top executives’ time horizons on the CSR disclosures of publicly listed Chinese firms. The analysis of a sample of 2,341 firm-year observations from 482 listed Chinese firms during the period of 2010 to 2014 showed that as executives’ time horizons shorten, a firm discloses more CSR information. Furthermore, I investigated how this relationship is moderated by resource dependence mechanisms.
The third empirical study examines the responses of institutional investors to the corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility of listed U.S. firms. Institutional investors differ in their investment horizons. In particular, dedicated institutional investors are long-term focused and transient institutional investors are short-term focused. The analysis of a dataset comprising 11,280 quarterly observations from 670 listed U.S. firms over the period 2007-2014 showed that firms that behave responsibly experience an increase in dedicated institutional ownership, whereas firms that behave irresponsibly face a decrease in transient institutional ownership. Jointly, these three empirical studies indicate that the temporal aspects of cognition affect decision-making related to CSR. Besides having implications for management practice, this dissertation is relevant to researchers who are interested in the cognitive drivers of CSR in China.