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Corporate Social Responsibility


Research Projects - contact Dr Ioanna Boulouta (


1. Corporate Boards and Socially Responsible Behaviour

This research project is concerned with socially responsible decision making at the corporate boards of directors. In particular, we look at how ethical/social dilemmas and subsequent responses to aid are affected by various stereotypes. Various stereotypes operating at the boards of directors may dictate various ‘appropriate’ responses which sometimes can be at odds with each other. For example, previous research has found that ‘female’ stereotypes are incompatible with ‘leadership’ stereotypes. In addition, it has been found that female directors who violate any of these stereotypes are penalised in their performance evaluations. Our work in this area examines whether female directors may find a way through Corporate Social Responsibility to manage the competitive tensions on board rooms and improve their performance evaluations by improving the social performance of their firms.

Related publication:

Boulouta, I. (2013) Hidden Connections: The Link Between Board Gender Diversity and Corporate Social Performance., Journal of Business Ethics, 113(2): 185-197, DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1293-7

2. Corporate Social Responsibility and National Competitiveness

This research focuses on the impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies on national competitiveness. Current research in the field of ‘Business and Society’ has mainly focused on the impact of CSR at the firm level, ignoring the impact of CSR at the macro-economic level. This research project connects CSR and international competitiveness literatures in order to examine CSR in a wider competition environment. Within a new integrative conceptual framework from international economics, strategic management and CSR literatures, we have examined the impact of CSR on the national standards of living of 19 developed countries, over a 6 year period. The results of this project, so far, suggest that CSR positively affects national living standards, as measured by per capita GDP.

Moreover, this project identifies particular CSR-based national strategies which can deliver National Competitive Advantage. Within this framework, various factors from the institutional environment of each country are being examined in their capacity to moderate the relationship between CSR and national living standards. So far, the strength of the national innovation system has been examined and preliminary results suggest that countries with low innovation culture can benefit even more from CSR-based national strategies.

Related publication:

Boulouta, I. and Pitelis, C. (2014) Who Needs CSR? The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on National Competitiveness., Journal of Business Ethics, 119(3):349-364. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1633-2

3. Does public trust in business affect the CSR returns on investment?

There has been a long debate in the literature on whether socially responsible activities have an impact on the financial performance of the company. What is certain however is that the variability of empirical results suggests the need to examine various contingencies that produce variable results. The goal of this project is to examine institutional level contingencies and specifically the role of public trust in corporations. In this context, we examine how the financial returns on CSR investments vary across countries with varying levels of public trust in corporations.