Corporate social responsibility in Western Europe: an institutional mirror or substitute?

Gregory Jackson, A Apostolakou

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551 Citations (SciVal)


In spite of extensive research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its link with economic and social performance, few studies have investigated the institutional determinants of CSR. This article draws upon neo-institutional theory and comparative institutional analysis to compare the influence of different institutional environments on CSR policies of European firms. On the basis of a dataset of European firms, we find that firms from the more liberal market economies of the Anglo-Saxon countries score higher on most dimensions of CSR than firms in the more coordinated market economies (CMEs) in Continental Europe. This result lends support to the view of voluntary CSR practices in liberal economies as being a substitute for institutionalized forms of stakeholder participation. Meanwhile, CSR tends not to mirror more institutionalized forms of stakeholder coordination. Instead, in CMEs, CSR often takes on more implicit forms. Our analysis also shows that national institutional and sectoral-level factors have an asymmetric effect - strongly influencing the likelihood of firms adopting 'minimum standards' of CSR, but having little influence on the adoption of 'best practices'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-394
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • institutions
  • corporate social responsibility
  • economic sociology
  • corporate governance


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