How the White House affects corporate social responsibility

CEOs are more likely to drive a corporate social responsibility agenda when their political views are at odds with those of the U.S. president, according to a study published in Management Decision.

The researchers found left-leaning CEOs are more likely to make socially conscious investments beyond the interests of their company, but those efforts fall by 18 percent when their political beliefs are reflected in the White House.

"You think that the people who are committed to social responsibility will stay committed regardless of the context," said study author Nara Jeong, PhD, assistant professor of management at San Francisco State University. "[CEOs] may change their stance if the context changes."

Dr. Jeong and her co-author used the Kinder, Lydenberg and Domini index, which rates companies' social investments, to examine CEO activity from 1994 to 2005. More than 750 CEOs were included in the study. Their political leanings were determined with 10 years of political donation data from the Federal Elections Commission.

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