The Existing Gap Between Internal and External Corporate Social Responsibility Actions – The Relationship between Family Ownership Structure and Corporate Social Responsibility Decoupling

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In response to stakeholder pressure, companies increasingly report on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR reporting is used as an instrument to monitor CSR performance and to hold companies accountable for the impacts of their corporate decision-making on the environment and society. Previous research has shown an interrelationship between family ownership structure (FOS) and self-reported CSR performance. However, the performance information as displayed in CSR reports comes with credibility issues. Less is known about whether CSR reporting is decoupled from the actual CSR performance of family-owned companies. This study investigates the relationship between FOS and corporate social responsibility decoupling (CSRD). Using a Panel data set of 2198 listed companies (from European and North American countries) during the period of 2016-2020, the results indicate that family ownership is positively related to greenwashing CSRD and negatively related to brownwashing CSRD. This study also finds that this relationship is weaker for companies headquartered in Liberal Market Economy countries compared to companies headquartered in more Coordinated Market Economy countries. The results support the notion that family companies make different choices concerning CSRD compared to non-family companies. The results also indicate that country-specific characteristics are important for understanding the variation in choices related to CSRD.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen