The Debate Over Doing Good: Corporate Social Performance, Strategic Marketing Levers, and Firm-Idiosyncratic Risk
Journal of Marketing, 73(6), 198-213, 2009
16 Pages Posted: 4 May 2013
Date Written: 2009
Marketers and investors face a heated, provocative debate over whether excelling in social responsibility initiatives hurts or benefits firms financially. This study develops a theoretical framework that predicts (1) the impact of corporate social performance (CSP) on firm-idiosyncratic risk and (2) the role of two strategic marketing levers, advertising and research and development (R&D), in explaining the variability of this impact among different firms. The results show that higher CSP lowers undesirable firm-idiosyncratic risk. Notably, although the salutary impact of CSP is greater in firms with higher (versus lower) advertising, a simultaneous pursuit for CSP, advertising, and R&D is harmful with increased firm-idiosyncratic risk. For theory, the authors advance the literature on the marketing-finance interface by drawing attention to the risk-reduction potential of CSP and by shedding new light on some critical but neglected roles of strategic marketing levers. They also extend CSP research by moving away from the long-fought battle for a universal CSP impact and toward a finer-grained understanding of when some firms derive more risk-reduction benefits from CSP. For practice, the results indicate that the “goodwill refund” of CSP is not unconditional. They also empower marketers to communicate more effectively with investors (i.e., doing good to better manage the risk surrounding firm stock prices).
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, stock risk, marketing-finance interface, advertising, research and development
JEL Classification: M21, M31, G00, G12, L86, M00, M30, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation