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When Corporate Social Responsibility Backfires: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

List, J.A. and Momeni, F., 2020. When corporate social responsibility backfires: Evidence from a natural field experiment. Management Science.
 
   

Abstract

This paper uses a natural field experiment to connect corporate social responsibility (CSR) to an important but often neglected behavior: employee misconduct and shirking. Through employing more than 1,500 workers, we find that our use of CSR increases employee misbehavior—24% more employees act detrimentally toward our firm by shirking on their primary job duties when we introduce CSR. Observed data patterns across the treatments are consonant with a model of “moral licensing,” whereby the “doing good” nature of CSR induces workers to misbehave on another dimension that is harmful to the firm.

This paper was accepted by Yan Chen, decision analysis.

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