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Do actions speak louder than words? The case of corporate social responsibility(CSR)


Academy of Management Best Papers Proceedings


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Hawn O;Ioannou I


Publication Year



This paper examines how CSR-related intangible assets, symbolic and substantive actions interact in affecting firm performance. We build upon and advance neo-institutional theory, developing hypotheses about different impact of the two types of actions. Our results indicate that symbolic actions in the presence of higher intangibles as well as larger interaction and gap between symbolic and substantive actions have a higher positive effect on market value. We contribute to the CSR literature by developing and testing our theory using market- value equation and a database comprising 2,261 firms in 43 countries from 2002 to 2008. Our study has implications for strategy scholars and executives: by teasing out the joint effects of decoupling and intangible assets on firm performance, we contribute towards understanding and distinguishing between primary and secondary drivers of performance heterogeneity.

Available on ECCH


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